Blast From The Past: Slipknot – Iowa

Ten years ago, one band decimated the hundreds of Nu Metal bands and Pop artists taking up the chart slots. Armed with nothing but dark boiler suits, silly masks and sheer ferocity, Slipknot single handedly managed to bring Metal, real Metal, to the top of the charts with sophomore album, Iowa. Regardless of what you may think now, or what your opinion’s of the quality of Slipknot‘s output, there’s no denying this band have achieved a hell of a lot in their career.

The 13-year-old in me loved Slipknot. They were heavy, they were dark, and they said “fuck” a lot without jumping around like a clown (apart from Clown, as he obviously, erm, was a clown) while sporting a red cap. I hated people, and Slipknot hated people too (see ‘People = Shit’). Ten years later, I still hate people, but Corey whines like Chad Kroeger in Stone Sour now and I’ve discovered “better” bands. Despite this, of course the band are re-releasing Iowa (Read: $$$), so now seems like the perfect time for a retrospective on the album. So what are you waiting for? Hurry up and make the jump.

Slipknot – Iowa (2001)

1. (515) – 1:00
2. People = Shit – 3:36
3. Disasterpiece – 5:08
4. My Plague – 3:40
5. Everything Ends – 4:14
6. The Heretic Anthem – 4:13
7. Gently – 4:53
8. Left Behind – 4:01
9. The Shape – 3:38
10. I Am Hated – 2:38
11. Skin Ticket – 6:41
12. New Abortion – 3:37
13. Metabolic – 3:56
14. Iowa – 15:03

In 1999, Slipknot released their debut. Chaotic and aggressive, it’s difficult to see why Slipknot were so quickly lumped in with the Nu Metal crowd. I understand there was some rapping (or at least something that marginally resembled rapping) and the band had a DJ, but the music was just something else. Nihilism had never been so attractive before and lyrically, Corey ran rings around Korn and Limp Bizkit (despite still being pretty shit at times). When the band came to release Iowa, however, the band managed to blow their debut away. Less commercially viable, back heavier, darker and more horrific than before, Slipknot were spitting with more venom than any of their contemporaries, and yet, the album was a huge success. Slipknot scared the shit out of parents around the globe, and rightly so.

Opening with a freaky claustrophobic screech of screams, Iowa eventually shreds your ears with the opening sounds of ‘People = Shit’, a song more relentless than my attempt to lose my virginity, and exposes the listener to sound of pure hatred. I tend to find that most of Ross Robinson’s records sound like shit (is that the ‘Robinson trademark’? The sound of shit production?), but in this instance, he has done a fantastic job in displaying a sound of pure hatred. Each frenzied scream, each down-tuned riff and each sound of the pounding, militant drums, is crisp with thick ferocious production.

The vicious sound continues throughout the album. Following track ‘Disasterpiece’ opens with the call of “I want to slit your throat and fuck the wound”, perhaps the only time people will ever hear such ugly lyrics in a number one chart-topping album. Corey’s vocals are aggressive, and so are the lyrics and music. However, like the predecessor, there are still hints of melody and it’s never really overdone (although, I’ve never been able to get into eighth track ‘Left Behind’). Slower tracks like ‘Gently’, ‘Skin Ticket’ and the title track are eerie, vile and atmospheric, displaying great dynamic range in Slipknot‘s aggression.

With Iowa, Slipknot pretty much reached their peak as a band, at least in terms of heaviness. Vol. 3 was diverse and experimental, being equally dark in places, but ultimately it lacked focus. It was like the band just weren’t sure what direction to go in at times. All Hope is Gone was more focused and direct than the predecessor, but ultimately it was bland and boring, with only a couple of decent songs. The next album (if they indeed do decide to do one), will probably be even worse. Iowa was created back when there was more mystique to the band. Nine maniacs dressed only in masks and boiler suits. It seems ridiculous to some, but 9 anonymous men creating noise seemed fresh at the time. Now, obviously that mysteriousness has kind of been ruined (mostly by Corey….), but what can you do?

So ultimately, it’s come to the part where I need to give the album a rating. A part I despise. How can words be translated into numerics? I tend to like reviews to be viewed from their own words, rather than reading what is essentially a meaningless number, something that tries to dumb things down to a level a child can understand. Iowa is undoubtedly a landmark record for many. It paved way for numerous heavy (and even heavier) bands to follow and reach some sort of mainstream acceptance. The album is great and I understand it has a huge following, but just how great is it and has the album aged well? Obviously it has aged very well and far greater than perhaps any of the other bands lumped in with the Nu Metal trend. However, in many respects, I still view Slipknot as kind of a gateway drug to some. A band that leads the way to much greater bands. That isn’t me trying to eradicate Slipknot‘s legacy, or shit on their accomplishments, because believe me, I do respect them. I just find it difficult to rate this album as a perfect 5/5, or even close to that. That’s perhaps one of the reasons why I wish I could just leave my ‘words’ to do the talking instead, but regardless, you can view my rating below.

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