With a spectacular release of their sixth album, Slipknot has reclaimed the throne of heavy metal. To celebrate a monumental entry to their catalog, it is the perfect time to rank all six efforts to see which is truly the best. Prepare for some hot takes.
#6: All Hope is Gone (2008)
The masked Iowa natives don’t release bad records, just the fourth album fell weaker. It is not a surprise; it falls shorter compared to the rest since the group was in turmoil.
The internal problems aside, some great tracks came out. The anthemic Psychosocial is a must-have when seeing the Knot live. Then other hard hitters like Sulfur and Gematria (The Killing Name) standout from the rest. Sadly, while most every other track is strong, nothing is all that memorable.
Quite possibly my least favorite song from the nine-piece metal veterans is Dead Memories. I just cannot stand the chorus, while the rest is fine.
Snuff destroys my heart every time I listen to it with its poignant lyrics and powerful conclusion. The most emotional and passionate track to come from the band to that point in their history. Speaking of impactful tunes, the bonus song ‘Til We Die is another that will get a room of people to start getting teary-eyed.
#5: Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Messages) (2004)
Experimentation has lead to some of Slipknot’s best songs, yet Vol. 3 misses a lot of points. It has some high energy and well-executed ideas but lacks anything all that worth to go down in history. The stars on the third effort certainly shine bright to make up for some lackluster aspects.
The Blister Exists not only shows how intense this record gets, but shows the percussive power that these guys put out due to ex-percussionist Chris Fehn, ex-drummer Joey Jordison, and founding member Shawn “Clown” Crahan.
Duality and Before I Forget share one thing in common and that is a scream-along chorus. Which is better is hard to put, but the two songs are superb at gathering energy despite their stylistic differences.
Another anthem for the maggots to listen to with pride is Pulse of the Maggots, a tribute to the most hardcore fans. When artists give the people, who support them, some love like this is beautiful, especially with the aggressive spin that Slipknot execute when saying thank you to their audience.
Haters would point out Corey Taylor’s lack of lyrical skill due to his excessive use of “fuck” on the first two albums. Then he showed them all up by writing songs like Vermillion and its acoustic counterpart Vermillion Pt. 2. The first truly beautiful sounding songs to come from such the extreme metalheads and to this day will still tear down anyone listening.
#4: .5 The Gray Chapter (2014)
This took me a bit to figure out. I used to hail the 2014 release as their best album. Some of my favorite songs are here, but some of my least favorites too. It just lacks the experimentation and has some drastic gaps between the quality of its strongest and weakest tracks, even though I do love everything the Knot has done.
XIX defies the typical structure of a Slipknot record, it is an actual song and not some weird introduction that disturbingly sets the tone. I love that aspect, but this was important as most of The Gray Chapter is meant to be a dedication to the late Paul Gray, who was a founding member that passed away in 2010.
Another leader comes from Sarcastrophe. A gut ripping track that proved to fans that after a long gap between .5 and All Hope, they still had the power to unleash utter hell. This monster always gives me chills by its heaviness.
Also proving that the guys have not lost their edge in creating extreme music comes from Custer and The Negative One. Two unrelentingly violent tracks that beat to death anyone in their path. Full of Taylor’s vicious screams and the assault that comes from the rest of the guys to back up the vocals is beyond intense.
An element that if a song has it, then it becomes a contender for my favorite is the contrast between the brutality and melodic. AOV and The Devil in I flawlessly show that it is possible to have something so heavy yet soothing. The flip here is AOV has a skull-crushing verse with a softer chorus and bridge while The Devil in I lets the beast out during its chorus then back in the cage during the verse.
Deceiving the listener with Killpop is just cruel. A gorgeous verse sets up false hope for something gentle then jolts into its chorus and climax after one of Jim Root’s best solos shows the danger that occurs when listening to these headbangers.
Everything else from Lech, Goodbye, and Nomadic does not leave the same imprint. Satisfying parts of the album to make it whole, but nothing that to punch me in the gut like everything listed above.
#3: Slipknot (1999)
It may not hit me emotionally as the band 2014 effort, but their debut still stands taller and stronger with its remarkable tracklist of smash hits. The strength is proven by the self-titled album going platinum in under a year, launching the young band’s career to set them on the path to get to this point 20 years later.
The first half is unrelenting hatred and anger from the explosive opening title Sic to and Surfacing, which features one of the best and most blunt choruses in their catalog. Nothing beats shouting “Fuck it all / Fuck this world / Fuck everything that you stand for,” at a concert or in your own home.
Plenty of experimentation showcases the creativity that went behind crafting the first record. Prosthetics and Tattered & Torn prove some weirdly scary things can happen when nine metalheads wearing masks get in a room together to make an album.
#2: Iowa (2001)
While The Gray Chapter opened the door as my first Slipknot album, Iowa gave me a peek into the madness that sold me that this is a path I want to go down.
People = Shit was the second song I heard, but it was the first that grabbed me to become a maggot. Its death metal influence and fierce chorus are irresistible.
The rest is pure mayhem with the chaotic Disasterpiece to the devilishly anthemic The Heretic Anthem. Backing up the rest of the first half comes from the melodic, yet heavy My Plague and another hateful tone from Everything Ends.
With a few exceptions here and there, most of the second half of the sophomore effort turns more experimental. Gently has a long intro that goes down a dark journey with equal parts brutal and reserved. The ultimate bizarreness to come out of their minds is within the title track itself, Iowa. A 15-minute horror show of a creepy atmosphere and Taylor’s haunting vocals.
#1: We Are Not Your Kind (2019)
The latest release hits everything that makes the Knot special in the metal scene. The perfect mix of Iowa levels of experimentation and heaviness and the life from Vol. 3, along with plenty of fresh ideas.
Not to go too much in-depth since I recently review WANYK, I do have to say its contrast of heaviness and melody balances better than anything previously done. Unsainted waves that flag high as others like Birth of the Cruel and Nero Forte emphasize the way the group can flip a switch between headbanging to something catchy or melodic for more comfort.
Plenty of the weirdness from the first two records come off of here with more maturity. Spiders or Death Because of Death highlight that the creative juices still flow strong within each member.
How would you rank each album?
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Image via Roadrunner Records