Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind

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It’s Slipknot. Regardless of how anyone might feel about the clown-masked Iowans, there is no denying that they have been one of the biggest rock bands in the world for the past 20 years. They may also be one of the most under-appreciated. Due to Slipknot’s association with nu-metal, a genre tag that includes the aimless aggression of Disturbed and Limp Bizkit that dominated the airwaves in the early 2000s, many people, admittedly including myself, have simply written them off for a long time.

Ranging from lawsuits from past members, to founding bassist Paul Gray’s tragic overdoes, to Corey Taylor’s divorce, the past decade has been tumultuous for Slipknot to say the least. With such pressing difficulties, it is highly commendable to see Slipknot coming through with such an inspired and confident sixth LP in We Are Not Your Kind. All the typical elements that make up a Slipknot song are present: chunky metal guitars, layered percussion, and sampling. But without much incoming expectations to even defy, Slipknot surprise by expanding their sound and introducing new elements. Simply put, this is the most experimental music of their career.

After an ambient intro, Slipknot kick things off full steam with the cinematic lead single “Unsainted.” An onslaught of punishing drums and rugged guitars give way to an arena-ready chorus from Corey Taylor who carries an uncanny ability to seamlessly shift from his powerful singing to his gruff, angered shouts. What’s new for Slipknot, and what really makes this track great, is the addition of choral vocals. These give the song a justified, grandiose feel that doesn’t come off as indulgent. “Nero Forte” is a furious headbanger with its rapid fire thrash riffs, anthemic chorus, and Corey Taylor’s signature rap/scream hybrid delivery.

We Are Not Your Kind is in no way short of heaviness. In fact, some of Slipknot’s most brutal music can be found on this LP, but equally compelling are the quieter moments that the band explores. “My Pain,” the longest track on the album, is a cacophonous, electronically tinted piece of brooding horror film composition. It’s destructive in a very different way than one typically expects from Slipknot. “Spiders” is an even further left-hook that incorporates some dreary piano work and a slippery bass groove throughout while atonal guitar drifts in and out.

Where in the past Slipknot might have showed a lack of restraint as they tried to proclaim their outsider status, the lyrics here demonstrate an exceptionally apparent level of growth and maturity. Taylor comments on depression, angst, and tragedy with a significant amount of nuance and vulnerability. On “Birth of the Cruel,” for example, Taylor states, “I'm just a Judas, lookin' for a silver line. And tomorrow is still a step behind.”

 The closing track is also the best. “Solway Firth” begins with an ominous, suffocating intro. Taylor’s eerie vocals rest upon a bed of feedback and sampled noise. Listen to his bizarre cadence as he delivers lines such as “They mutter as the body loses warmth.” This all gives way to the heaviest, most intense cuts on the record.

We Are Not Your Kind is not a perfect record by any means. It is a bit overstuffed and bloated. While there are many key highlights, there are also a handful of songs that need not be present, tracks that feel overly calculated and run-of-the-mill. But even with its faults, this is a surprisingly solid effort that has a very good chance of converting even Slipknot’s most ardent naysayers.

Grade: B-