Slipknot had a peculiar start. 'Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat' didn't exactly set the world ablaze and listening to it, there is no wonder why. A weird mix of metal and jazz, the band prefers to see this as a demo nowadays instead of a full album release. But Slipknot isn't quite Big Brother yet and you cannot rewrite your history just because your band has moved on from the early days (he says knowing full well that I've actually released three books, not just two.)
The self-titled album, Iowa and Volume 3: The Subliminal Verses were all top form. Especially the self-titled. A lot of noise, anger, genre merging and face-melting guitar riffs. In fact, it was beginning to look like Slipknot could do no wrong until 'All Hope Is Gone' was released, which was probably the worst Slipknot album ever made in my opinion. It felt like it had just been tossed out on a weekend, bland and unexciting in comparison to their previous efforts. Sulfur and Psychosocial will always be good tracks, but they will always be on a dire album that seemed to lack the get-up-and-go energy I loved from Slipknot. All hope was certainly gone.
A lot has happened since Slipknot's last album. I saw them live at The Download Festival 2009, I completed adolescence, studied at college and began a writing career, continuously broadening my tastes as I did so. Would I even be into Slipknot anymore?
Well that answer would be yes. There is still a place in my heart for Slipknot. I listened to some of their classics and found myself wondering why I hadn't listened to more. I don't give a fuck who disagrees, Eyeless is a fucking awesome track.
Dot Five, The Gray Chapter appears to be a homage to their late bassist, Paul Gray, who died one year after I witnessed their amazing performance at Download 2009. From the start it is clear the album is following the footsteps of Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses. The album structure is remarkably similar. First track is a lengthy introduction that shows off Corey Taylor's vast vocal range. Then tracks two and three enter with something hard hitting and fast paced. Track four is a little bit more mainstream. Finally we have two more hard hitting tracks before the album starts becoming all pretentious and emotional with the occasional hard hitter slipped in for good measure. Following your own footsteps is a dangerous game as you risk becoming stale and sounding samey. But with the knowledge that their previous album didn't follow any Vol 3 steps and still sounded stale and samey, reverting to an older equation seems like a good idea.
Overall, Dot Five is a good album. The guitar riffs are great, they're actually making use of all the percussion in interesting ways again and Corey is a solid vocalist without a doubt. Again, I feel it lacks in a bit of energy that their previous works had, however, it is without a doubt miles better than All Hope Is Gone. There is also a feeling of hollowness with this album, as though there is a guitar or just something missing from the mix. But it isn't always a bad thing, some of the faster paced tracks feel much more full of energy and bounciness without having to carry a full set of noise to the ears. In fact, I'm certain that quite a lot of the tracks here feature some of Slipknot's most interesting work. AOV, The Devil In I, Skeptic, Killpop and The Negative One are fantastic tracks.
Not all good however. I'm probably going to get a lot of hate for this but some of the songs sound kinda… gay. Not in a homophobic way, there's just a lot of Corey singing and not much else going on in some of the tracks such as Goodbye and Normadic and The One Who Kills The Least. They sound like filler and even though they're meant to be more emotional based tracks, they sound token and without genuine feeling. One of the best feeling to capture within angry music is frustration and they regretfully don't even come close. They're good and have their own merits within themselves, but turns the album dramatically from Slipknot to just elevator music at times. All wishy washy without any real substance.
Dot Five feels confused. Like there is something pulling the band in two different directions and they're attempting to go in both. But continue like this and the band will be ripped apart. There's an obvious lack of focus over what they wanted to achieve with Dot Five, and whereas diversity is good, the day you find One Direction performing metal tracks is certainly a day you think 'What the fuck?' And that is exactly the case with this album. It just can't decide which path to take, so it meanders around them all but never fully committing to one. Which is a huge shame since there is clearly huge potential in the album and on a playing level, they sound tighter than ever.
Would I recommend Dot Five? Yes I would. Despite my complaints, I still think it is very almost on a par with the Self Titled, Iowa and Vol 3. And it is most defiantly better than All Hope Is Gone that's for sure.
Perhaps what amazes me the most is that despite getting through being a greasy teenager, I still like Slipknot's music. So I wish the band all the best and look forward to their next album, maybe when that fucking insane clown finally pegs it.