It’s been nearly five years since the release of 2014's .5: The Gray Chapter, and fans have been eagerly awaiting the sixth studio album from American nu-metal legends Slipknot.
The unveiling of new masks shortly before We Are Not Your Kind heightened the anticipation, with fans picking apart the band’s refreshed look and what it could mean for the music. The iconic masks are redesigned with each album to hail in the new era, but, though they change, they retain certain features - keyboardist Craig Jones has sported spikes since album one, and percussionist Shawn Crahan has maintained his creepy clown persona. The band does with its masks what it does with its music; developed, explored, finessed, but never changed so much as to become unrecognisable.
"The band does with its masks what it does with its music; developed, explored, finessed."
WANYK is more similar to Slipknot’s self-titled debut than anything, filled with punchy drum beats and gritty riffs, not to mention frontman Corey Taylor’s familiar vocal style – growled verses interjected with melodious song. But this album is undoubtedly more experimental than anything they have produced to date. The opening track Insert Coin is a short, eerie exploration of synth sounds, mainly instrumental, with the single line ‘I’m counting all the killers’ heard towards the end.
From there we launch into Unsainted, which is set to be the catchiest song on the album. With fast-paced verses and a memorable chorus easy for crowds to chant along to, it’s reminiscent of Duality (from Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses).
Following tracks Birth Of The Cruel, Nero Forte and Red Flag provide us with more heavy guitars and ruthless drums, chants, and even sirens. But underneath Taylor’s screams there are intense layers of emotion – the album title itself references the current political state of America and the president’s alleged desire to divide humankind.
"Underneath Taylor’s screams there are intense layers of emotion."
I’ll admit that, when I first came across Slipknot back in 2013, metal wasn’t my thing and the roaring growls took me a while to get into. It was their softer, painfully emotive songs Snuff and Vermillion Part II which drew me in – and I was disappointed that I didn’t find any tracks on WANYK to be contenders to advocate the less screamy, more impassioned side to the metal veterans. A Liar’s Funeral begins with soft strumming and Taylor’s butter-sweet voice, but quickly develops into a furious, raging condemnation of the ‘liar’ – although it’s unlike my favoured Snuff, the juxtaposition of soft and harsh, heavier verses is exquisite.
On My Pain, arguably the softest track of the album, barely any sound is audible until 1:49 and it remains quiet and uncluttered throughout. Make no mistake, though, the key in which Taylor sings and the repetition of ‘love, love, love’ makes it one of the most intensely creepy tracks on the entire record.
There are undoubtedly some standout tracks on WANYK (A Liar’s Funeral is quickly becoming one of my favourites) and as a whole it demonstrates Slipknot’s impressive progression since their 1999 debut, while showing that they are still, at their core, the same band they were back then. WANYK is sure to be a hit with maggots everywhere.