Slipknot: .5 The Gray Chapter – [Record 153]
.5: The Gray Chapter is the fifth studio album by American Nu metal band Slipknot. released in Australia and the Netherlands on October 17, 2014 and scheduled for release on October 21, 2014 in the US, it is the first album by the band in six years and the first to not feature bassist Paul Gray and drummer Joey Jordison after the former died in 2010 (the title of the album being a reference to his name), and the latter parted ways with the band in 2013. A standard and deluxe edition of the album will be released. The deluxe edition will feature two bonus tracks. It was also revealed another special edition featuring a T-shirt of the album cover will be released.
Record One. Side One.
Record One. Side Two.
4. The Devil in I.
Record Two. Side One.
10. The One That Kills the Least.
Record Two. Side Two.
12. Be Prepared for Hell.
13. The Negative One.
14. If Rain Is What You Want.
Background: The writing process of the record began in late 2013. Wanting to dedicate more time to the album, guitarist Jim Root decided not to tour with Stone Sour in January 2014. According to frontman Corey Taylor, the sound of the album is somewhat of a cross between 2001’s Iowa and 2004’s Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). Taylor told Pop Culture Madness that the material contains “gorgeous melodies” and the artistic direction as Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) but yet retains some of its “brutality” from the Iowa era.
A new bassist and drummer were added to the lineup during the recording process and Taylor told Loudwire that two similar masks were created for their appearances in music videos and stage performances as they saw it disrespectful to have them sporting unique masks. Both members were briefly shown in the music video for The Devil In I, however their identities have not been announced by Slipknot amidst speculation. Jim Root revealed in an interview that Donnie Steele was involved in some of the studio sessions for the album and they had tried many other bass players until they settled.
The album was produced by Greg Fidelman, known for his work with Metallica, System of a Down, Audioslave and more. Coincidentially, he also mixed their third album, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) ten years ago. Furthermore, Joe Barresi handled the mixing duties.
Promotion: On July 15, the band began releasing short teasers for the new album for over a two-week period that turned out to be clips from the official video along with samples from a song entitled “The Negative One”. The song was released on August 1, 2014 and an accompanying video was released on August 5, 2014. It was directed by Shawn Crahan; however, it did not feature any of the band members. On August 13, 2014 the band revealed the cover art for their official radio single entitled “The Devil in I”. and the single premiered on August 24, 2014. The official video for the single was unveiled on September 12 featuring the members with new variations of their masks with the exception of Taylor who debuted a new mask and the new bassist and drummer’s masks which were very similar. Slipknot will begin their world tour at the second iteration of Knotfest as headliners on October 25 and the 26 with Anthrax, Five Finger Death Punch, Otep and Black Label Society among others in California. A co-headline North American tour with Korn dubbed the Prepare for Hell tour will commence afterwards with King 810 in support. The album appeared on Spotify on October 17, prior to it’s official release.
Style and themes: Corey Taylor told sources the album would be a cross between 2001’s Iowa and 2004’s Volume 3: The Subliminal Verses. Musically, the album sees Slipknot returning to their roots with a chaotic nu metal sound similar to Iowa and the self titled debut album, with samples and turntables much more present than in more recent releases. This is exemplified in tracks such as Custer, Lech, Skeptic, Sarcastrophe, AOV, and The Negative One. However, the album also uses experimental and more melodic structures, apparent in tracks such as The Devil In I, Goodbye, and If Rain Is What You Want. Lyrically, the album expresses themes of depression, anger, redemption, and hostility. A few of the tracks can be seen as tributes to late bassist Paul Gray, such as the sorrowful Goodbye and the anger filled Skeptic, which expresses themes of frustration and the line “The world will never see another crazy motherfucker like you. The world will never know another man as amazing as you.” Also, Killpop has been called Vermilion Part 3 due to its similar themes as the original two songs.
Critical response: Revolver magazine critic Dan Epstein wrote: “It is to Slipknot’s great credit that they acknowledge Gray’s memory on ‘.5: The Gray Chapter,’ but it’s also to their credit that they don’t try to sugarcoat their loss, anger or grief anywhere on the album.” Epstein also further added: “From that deep well of pain, another great Slipknot record has emerged.”