One of the first to implement masked personalities as a mainstay in the rock category (save for bands such as GWAR and Mushroomhead), Iowa rockers Slipknot drilled Des Moines into the topography of thrash and metal. This 9-piece orchestrated freak show was destined to lead a group of real maggots – but that was 1999.
In 2004, sides were chosen on the release of Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses when people started hearing Slipknot on the radio regularly. Some worried their creature was losing it’s grip on ferocity and decided to abandon the new sound, while others embraced the melodic touch. Fans wanted to know if the Iowa metal orchestra had taken it as far as they could go. Some may have thought lead vocalist CoreyTaylor’s side project Stone Sour took a toll on the band’s writing, changing the overall tempest that was Slipknot.
It’s 2008, and fans have All Hope Is Gone – the album supposedly their darkest yet. From the start of “Execute” one wants to say hello to Iowa, but instead they’ll wave goodbye and plow right into “Gematria (The Killing Name)”. Familiar but weakened rantings by Taylor, destructive drums by Jordison, and the massive chaos that is Slipknot’s bullet-riddled heart and soul chanting: “America is a killing name/it doesn’t feel or discriminate/Life is just a killing field/it’s all that’s left, nothing is real.” Recycled from old messages of destruction without staying true to themselves, all too familiar with bands coming to their inevitable end.
“Sulfur” feels like a truly passionate beat-down upon betrayers of every sort, and “Psychosocial”, while almost a more twisted clone of the latter holds it’s own as a single. It’s been said by other reviewers the next track, “Dead Memories” sounds a lot like Alice In Chains; unfortunately it’s again rehashed ideas and ideology. “Vendetta” might have honestly been one of the best songs on the album, but it sounds so much like Stone Sour it’s disturbing. “Butcher’s Hook” seems torn to pieces then glued together, while “Gehenna” is either the ultimate filler or a badly misplaced intro track.
Finally, there’s “This Cold Black” which boasts brilliant time signatures, gut-wrenching vocals, and fine-tuned percussion crunching – easily the best on the CD, save for “Wherein Lies Continue” and the title track which coincidentally closes out the album. In between all of this is a powerful, passionate mood-setter called “Snuff” that pretty much sums up Taylor’s feelings after his wife left him, even when he stopped drinking. The only downside is it’s more or less a clone of “Xyzzx Rd.” from Come What(ever) May by Stone Sour in 2007.
All Hope Is Gone is about one-half Slipknot, the other half spam. If you need it for your collection then fine, but if you’re in it to enjoy it – look elsewhere. Hearing all of the hype surrounding All Hope Is Gone brought in some speculation as to whether the band was planning to go old school or try something awesomely different yet again – whatever the case, this new turn hurts more than it pleases.