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Let’s say you want to make a breakout record, look no further than this album. It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since Slipknot was released.
If you’re a Slipknot fan, you’ll instantly recognise ‘742617000027’, a frequent intro piece for their shows. It’s a fresh intro, even in 2019 — impressive considering its age. It’s unusual with its scratches and sampling, but if you’re familiar with the band, you know what’s about to go down.
Before I delve into the record, I just want to point out its main flaw. Sometimes, it sounds like a product of its time due to the excessive rapping. This is particularly noticeable in the middle of the album. While this record is often branded as nu metal, this isn’t the case for the most part. Nu metal was in the mainstream around the late 90s/early 00s — look no further than Limp Bizkit for a prime example. There are frequent nu metal elements here and, sometimes, they do work. However, I often find myself wishing it would go in another direction. This is a minor criticism though. Indeed, many Slipknot fans love this aspect.
‘(sic)’ is a ferocious introduction. It’s fierce, in-your-face, and one of the groups most recognisable tracks. ‘Wait and Bleed’ is another popular single. This one is the most commercial track on the album, but it’s also one of the best. Why? The chorus is catchy, it gets heavier as it goes on, and it’s a well-crafted song. Corey Taylor’s vocal is especially impressive, going from clean singing to screaming like a demon from Hades with ease. For me, ‘Surfacing’ is the best track on the album. It has everything that makes Slipknot great — attitude, anger, tight musicianship — with a career-best chorus. It’s a song most can relate to, still holding up after all these years.
‘Spit It Out’ is where the rapping really works — it’s a staple of the band’s live show for good reason. Once you hear it, you better be prepared to jump. What I really like about this album is the use of turntables, sampling, and percussion, all of which give the tracks a layered sound without becoming too busy. These different elements complement each other well, establishing a distinct sound which has evolved over time.
I’m going to skip to the last track on the album, hidden track ‘Eeyore’ begins after a long pause during ‘Scissors’. I wish this weren’t a hidden track because it’s an album highlight — short and heavy, it leaves you wanting more. The vocals are some of the harshest on the album and I can’t imagine Corey’s throat was in great condition after that recording session. If you ever see ‘Eeyore’ performed live, it’s likely to take the roof off the venue.
Slipknot is by no means a perfect album but it’s a strong debut, containing some of Slipknot’s defining tracks. They set the bar high here and continued to raise it with the records that followed. 20 years later, it’s still worth returning to.