Still at the peak of their creative powers well into their third decade

There’s no denying the importance of Slipknot to the metal world. Twenty years ago, their challenging and mould-breaking debut set the trend for much of the heavy music to come since and their prominence remains even after line-up disputes, tragedies and periods of uncertainty regarding their continued existence. Regardless of popularity, only the strongest of units could survive that type of turmoil, and more than two decades into a storied career, We Are Not Your Kind sees them still pretty much in tact despite the losses and infighting of recent years.

Ignoring the intro, ‘Unsainted’ builds nicely with choirs and militaristic percussion towards a typically Slipknot explosion of grooves and Corey Taylor’s instantly identifiable vocal fury. It’s a strong opening statement, possibly better than anything else for a long time, that shows the band has retained both its edge and commercial accessibility as it moves effortlessly from rage to catharsis. Already they are demonstrating a desire to bring back some of the urgency and anger that seemed lost on the previous set of albums where Slipknot appeared to be coming close to being too much like Stone Sour.

‘Birth of the Cruel’ and the seriously heavy ‘Forte Nero’ keep that spirit alive into the early reaches of the album while occasional interludes break up proceedings without getting in the way too much. Slipknot gets directly self-referential with ‘Red Flag’ playing out almost exactly like something from Iowa or Vol. 3, making it a little too clear that while they can still find inventive new ways to present their chaotic take on groove-laden metal, they still have a tendency to fall back on past glories. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, of course – We Are Not Your Kind is Slipknot being Slipknot, just better than they’ve been doing it for about 15 years. There’s still plenty of anger and pain, even if the element of danger once inherent has long since passed. Even without Chris Fehn, Slipknot’s percussive onslaught is as furious as ever and the groove and breakdowns hit harder than anything since Iowa. Importantly, experimentation is still at the core of the band’s work. Even though ‘Red Flags’ sounds regurgitated, tracks like the wildly effective ‘Spiders’ with its sleek electro-pop vibe or the stoner-tinged ‘Solway Firth’ come along to show they still have plenty of tricks up their multi-armed sleeves – ‘My Pain’ actually sounds heartfelt compared to previous attempts like ‘Snuff’ at expressing something other than rage, perhaps the best reflection of Taylor’s personal agonies on the album.

Somehow, Slipknot have turned their turmoil into more grist for their mill and continue to expand their reference points. This is their heaviest, angriest and most expansive release since Vol. 3, a band still at the peak of their creative powers well into their third decade. Remarkable.

 

 

  1. Insert Coin
  2. Unsainted
  3. Birth of the Cruel
  4. Death Because of Death
  5. Nero Forte
  6. Critical Darling
  7. A Liar’s Funeral
  8. Red Flag
  9. What’s Next
  10. Spider
  11. Orphan
  12. My Pain
  13. Not Long For This World
  14. Solway Firth