There’s something going on when moms and dads bring their kids to a night out. It ain’t a Steps or hear’say gig. It’s a slipknot playback. I don’t know about you, but there’s something disturbing about 9 year old kids in special kiddie size Linkin Park tops and spiked Red hair. Moshers shout out lyrics, huddled in a circle – not for warmth, maybe for the emotional security of being in their own tight knit group, knowing that the songs they are hearing represent their inner emotional core, than know their pain more than their parents ever will.. Welcome to packaged teenage rebellion. Perhaps it’s telling its an “all ages” playback, especially so the under 18 market can listen to the album - Amusing how roadrunner know its target market so well, they are exploiting the pocket money market.
Ladies and gentleman, welcome to IOWA. This is the zeitgeist of the alienated teenager, with Kids in keychains holding their hands together, doing their best impression of apes while seeming to fake an epileptic attack – its called moshing. 'Slipknot', which was to most their debut, was one of the most influential (certainly on 15 year old kids at any rate) metal records of the decade, and now that they have reached the point of being ludicrously huge, it means the band could release a record comprised of farting noises and Slippers fans the world over would hail it as genius.
Fortunately, this is not what Slipknot have done, as “IOWA”, while in the most part is unable to live up to expectations (which as are stellar as star wars fans held for Episode I. The album begins with an ominous rumbling intro of “515”, before “People = Shit” (already on a million t-shirts) takes the formula of the first album and cranks it up to 666. Its savage, atonal, and the typical Slipknot trademark sound stays in place – sparse drums turn into Napalm Death like blast beats, while Corey barks “Satan, what do you want from me? Try as I might, I just fuck up! Meanwhile, people mosh for the fuck of it. When Corey sings “Tell me what the fuck you’re looking at – look me in the eye for the last time,” in 'Disaster Piece', you know he means it, and you know this is probably the most extreme album ever made by an Arena band. To most of the target audiences, it’s the second coming. There’s no let up, no quiet moments, and quite possibly the highest per second swearing rate since the opening track on the last Limp Bizkit CD.
And its suitably apocalyptic, when 'End of Everything' kicks in, suitably angst ridden, possibly second single material- or as close to it as you can get in the album. Catchy, loud, and aggressive, it encapsulates Slipknot in a nutshell. 'Heretic Anthem', which you might know if you like Mp3’s, that follows, is catchy, hateful and angstridden to hell. With a chorus like “If You’re 555, then I’m 666” it's perfect for slipknot fans the world over. Guaranteed to cause RSI in the necks of headbanging nu-metallers everywhere.Follow up track 'Gently' (originally featured on the original 'MateFeedKillRepeat' CD, their debut 5 years ago), is anything but gentle. And As for 'I am hated' – which will feature in the forthcoming remake of “Rollerball” – I can easily see why it was added onto the album at the last minute. For a start, its easily one of the stand out tracks on the album, commercial, memorable and intense, but it sounds to a certain extent like one of the least original tracks on the album. It could be Linkin Bizkit or the Def Chamber, and has Nu-metal generica written all over it. It’s metal by numbers, and that number is 666!
As an album 'Iowa' it’s a lot less melodic but more hatred, more anger and more extreme. But its not so much a new album, as a rehash of the preceding album; “Iowa” is an album which is more of the same, zero musical progression, nothing new, no surprises...and if the last album left you bewildered as to what the fuss was about, then this CD will also. Slipknot are a band that came out of the womb fully formed, and there’s no change, no evolution in the sound, no technological drum programs, the roles of the DJ and samplers have been reduced to virtually nothing, and the guitars turned up full. It won’t win the band any fans it didn’t already have, and its no revelation, lacking he subtlety and pacing that made “Demanufacture” or “Roots” such classics. It’s relentless, devoid of light and shade. Even the last track “Iowa” is a sprawling moody ominous 14 minute sludge fest, much like “Scissors”. In fact, it mirrors the last album so much, its virtually a clone of it.
In many ways, Slipknot’s sheer brutality and cleverly designed image has catapulted them to heights they never deserved, leaving far superior - and far more talented bands - who don’t exploit their demographic so cynically behind. However, what this ignores , and what everyone I saw tonight seems to ignore is that if you choose an image, its still an image. If you wear an uniform, It’s still a uniform whether its goldchains and Dr Dre tops or keychains & Slipknot tops, whether its spiky hair and piercings or a perm and Ben Sherman shirts. It doesn’t stop “Iowa” being one of the most instant, yet uncommercial metal albums ever released on a mainstream audience. The kids will love it, they’ll buy it by the bucketload, wear the hooded tops, and make Roadrunner very very rich. Parents will hate it. Can you ask for anything more? It’s impressive, but ultimately like the previous album, one dimensional, repetitive and monotonous. In the meantime, rebellious teenagers will have a figureheads in masks and nine inch dildo’s for noses, and wonder why their parents don’t take them seriously. The same parents who two decades were teenagers listening to loud music played by men with masks on, and annoying their parents too, only then it was Kiss, now its Slipknot. Make no mistake – It ain’t art. But it does rock.
Welcome to the nu-metal order. Long live the nu-flesh.
(tracks 1:(515) 2. PEOPLE = SHIT 3. DISASTER PIECE 4. MY PLAGUE 5. EVERYTHING ENDS 6. HERETIC ANTHEM 7. GENTLY 8. LEFT EBHIND 9. THE SHAPE 10. I AM HATED 11.SKINTICKET 12. NEW ABORTION 13.METABOLIC 14. IOWA 15.LIBERATE (live – Japanese only track))
7Graham Reed's Score