Ladies and gentleman, Slipknot are back. Six years after the release of their last album (2008’s All Hope Is Gone) Iowa’s finest have offered up an appetiser – “The Negative One” - the first taste of their forthcoming fifth album.
Slipknot have changed beyond recognition since topping the charts in 2008. The death of bassist Paul Gray struck the band at the height of their fame and led the group, often on the verge of dissolution, to consider permanently packing it in. After a gruelling decision to endure, the remaining eight members rallied to deliver an emotion-fuelled tribute to their fallen bandmate at Sonisphere 2010.
With tragedy in their rear view mirror, Slipknot found fresh consternation when Joey Jordison - the group’s universally lauded drummer – quit the band last December. Joey claims he was “ousted”, Slipknot say they were “abandoned”, but with or without their drummer, the band has moved on and new material has arrived.
Although, perhaps it is wrong to say the band have moved on, “The Negative One” is less a step forward and more a conscious trip into the past. With chaos and uncertainty surrounding the band, it is perhaps unsurprising Slipknot have looked towards renewal. From the aggressive, prominent, scratching to the brutally single-minded guitar work, “The Negative One” is an undisguised throwback to the band’s genre shattering self-titled debut.
For many fans, particularly those who were young and angry in 1999, but who are now a little longer in the tooth, this return to the old ways will be warmly greeted. However, “The Negative One” should not be written off as a nostalgic regression. Despite eschewing the glorious arena unifying hooks that saw the band poke their head above the metal parapet, the track is still buoyed by a ferociously polished groove that takes the edge off Corey and Craig’s wiry aggression.
“The Negative One” is vitriol writ large; a seething slice of pit fodder. The kind of track that can set it off live, but will not earn the band many new fans or revolutionise the metal scene.
It’s an intriguing teaser, but one key question keeps bubbling to the surface: can Slipknot embrace the old ways and still incorporate the unmistakable hooks and addictive riffs that made them into one of the biggest and most important bands of their generation?
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