Slipknot were subjected to an ungodly weight of both internal pressure and external expectation in 2014. After the tear filled press conferences and traumatic headline sets that followed Paul Gray’s death, it was time to get back to business as usual and produce an album that could not be considered a hypocritical cash in. To make matters worse, the band lost another key member. Thankfully, there were no tragic circumstances this time around; only creative differences that saw Joey Jordison (one of the best drummers in the business) head off to pastures new.
Against this turbulent backdrop guitarists Mick Thomson and Jim Root came to the fore. With frontman Corey Taylor serving up more aggression and depression than melodic hooks, the brutality and gothic darkness of .5: The Gray Chapter’s guitar work was free to steal the show. There’s portentous pounding on “The Devil In I”, the brooding chuggery of “Killpop”, a whiplash riff on “Skeptic” and a track salvaging solo on “The One That Kills The Least” – whichever way you turn, Root and Thomson will be there, unleashing hell.
Far from an obtuse display of guilt or instinctive lunge towards the comfort blanket of nostalgia, .5: The Gray Chapter is a conflicted work that’s held together by two versatile guitarists content to roll with the punches: butchering flesh one moment and staring despondently into the void the next.
Enter Shikari renew their archly political assault while expanding their sonic horizons on The Mindsweep.
Brutish, brazen and ungodly satisfying, Royal Blood rode a barrage of chugging bass grooves all the way to the top of the charts in 2014.
Opeth may preach exclusively to the converted, but to overlook the Swedes’ staggeringly consistent brilliance is foolhardy.
Soothing and sorrow-laden in equal measure, Lost In The Dream by The War On Drugs left Guitar Planet speechless.
Guitar Planet has had a love/hate relationship with Slash since Velvet Revolver split, but it remains impossible to deny his freewheeling riffs and slippery solos.