The Lowdown: When it comes to a long career in any art form, growth is a necessity. Back in 2004, Slipknot released Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), a turning point in their career that steered away from the abrasive sound of their previous records. Since Vol. 3, the band has incorporated a mix of heavy aggression alongside that of clean singing and minimal, atmospheric cuts. This duality of tone and energy of course has made listeners divided; yet, the effort that Slipknot have put into expanding their craft is commendable.
With that said, what Slipknot have done on their newest album, We Are Not Your Kind, is truly awesome.
The Good: If one were to say We Are Not Your Kind is a “new form of Slipknot,” that would be missing the bigger point; this LP encompasses all that has been and is Slipknot. From the guttural grinding of guitars to the blends of singing and screaming, to the mix of hectic and somber atmosphere, the Iowa metallers touch upon elements found throughout their discography.
“Unsainted” makes for a solid introduction, offering an enjoyable and heavy ride for the listener to latch onto. “Solway Firth” is a killer cut that taps into the band’s classic aggression, while also presenting an ominous atmosphere. The guitars emit a twilight darkness with each twang, the drums and bass thrashing and pouncing respectively. Tearing through the instrumentals, the lyrics bring a visceral bite. The vocals behind such lines as, “You want the real smile? Or the one I used to practice not to feel like a failure?” contain such grit and ferocity, almost coming at the listener like a primal charge.
The past decade has seen the tragic death of bassist Paul Gray, the parting of ways with drummer Joey Jordison, and the recent exiling of percussionist Chris Fehn, but the band’s instrumentation on We Are Not Your Kind is as intense and emotional as ever. Even though each song presents its own unique identity, there is this awesome sensation of the band incorporating sounds and styles that beckon back to their older material.
“Red Flag” draws upon a raw energy similar to the Iowa days, drums clashing and banging, the electronic elements periodically stirring and blaring.. The guitar shredding and riffs on “Orphan” also bring to mind the band’s older material, while cuts like “My Pain” provide the atmospheric, melancholy air, similar to work that might be found on All Hope Is Gone. In particular, this latter track is one of the album’s more unique cuts, as it exudes this uncomfortable darkness through minimal instrumentation. Alongside the melancholy keys and somber beat, Corey Taylor singing such lines as, “I’m your chain, and I’m your lock, there’s no escape,” adding to the unnerving atmosphere.
Vocally, Taylor unleashes his remarkable range on the album. Whether it’s the ferocious barking on tracks like “Critical Darling” or his shifts between screaming and singing on “Not Long for This World”, Taylor is always keeping the listener’s ear engaged. His voice has always been one of the band’s strongest tools in establishing emotion, and he does one hell of a job throughout We Are Not Your Kind.
One of the most intriguing tracks on the album is “Spiders”, which provides a creepy feeling, trickling along in a style that feels reminiscent to John Carpenter’s Halloween theme. During the hook, the guitar exudes a shadowy radiance, giving off this psychedelic, surf-rock vibe. This sound is further expanded upon later in the track, presenting a whirling distortion.
We Are Not Your Kind not only displays strong craftsmanship from the band, but sees Slipknot calling back to their old material, while further evolving their artistry. Unlike their recent LPs, We Are Not Your Kind doesn’t drag on, nor does it dwell too long in one particular sound or style. There’s a terrific balance of aggression and emotion within the work; on We Are Not Your Kind, Slipknot really bring home excellent blends of melancholy and anger.
The Bad: To be frank, given all the stylization, the production, and creativity taking place, it’s tough to find something wrong with the album. Of course, it’s all a matter of personal preference, and fans who pine for the band’s early sound may not latch onto We Are Not Your Kind immediately — but even those listeners will likely come around to this exceptional LP.
The Verdict: Slipknot’s journey these past 20 years has been nothing short of fascinating. Their library of material offers an excellent collection of memorable songs, both thrilling and emotionally moving. With that in mind, We Are Not Your Kind not only makes for a solid addition to the band’s discography, but also represents how far they’ve come.
At this point in their career, the band is beyond creating another Iowa, and instead, a work more representational of who they are now. The core of We Are Not Your Kind exudes a duality; the youthful rage of the band’s past still lingers on each riff, each clashing cymbal, and in each scream — but there’s also a maturity that is present among the work. Slipknot have not “lost their way” or just decided to abruptly change — they have grown.
With their latest studio album, Slipknot have released one of the strongest albums in their career. When it comes to We Are Not Your Kind, Slipknot live up to the title.
Essential Tracks: “Spiders”, “Solway Firth”, “Orphan”