When Slipknot arrived on the scene a few years ago,
they were quickly labelled as part of the burgeoning "nu-metal"
scene. But while they exhibited some of the hip-hop elements
of Korn and Limp Bizkit, underneath was a machine
that owed more to underground metal than to rap. The gimmick
of wearing masks and their intense live shows at OzzFest combined
to bring Slipknot into a realm of popularity unknown
by other extreme metal bands.
It would have been easy for Slipknot to follow up
their debut with a collection
of aggressive-but-still-radio-friendly songs, with a few extreme
tracks "for the true fan." I suspected that Slipknot
would take the easy way out. However, the buzz grew that Iowa
was not going to be a sell-out. Within the first few minutes
of listening to Iowa, it becomes clear that Slipknot
took the least commercial route.
Iowa opens with the bizarre track (515) before
ripping into the raging intensity of People=S***. From
that song on, the album is a white-knuckle ride that has largely
done away with the debut's nu-metal flourishes and replaced
them with a death metal sensibility. Along the way, flashes
of melody break up the onslaught long enough for the listener
to catch his or her breath. Track 8, Left Behind, features
the best mix of brutality and melodicism to come from America
in years. The album ends with the eerie soundscape of Iowa,
a track that will seep into your head.
This may very well be the most brutal album to crack the
Billboard Top 10 (Ruthven's comments - obviously we don't
know this yet). But it's not for the weekend metal warrior;
only seasoned headbangers will get enjoyment out of this album.
If you liked the first album because your friends told you
to, you might want to sit this one out.
All in all, an excellent album that sidesteps the sophomore
slump by going more extreme. And for that, Slipknot should
be commended. While I liked the first album, I saw them as
more of a gimmick band than anything else. With Iowa,
I am fully onboard.