Hi folks. This is an update of a post from a year ago today, looking back on my favourite album by Slipknot, released 15 years ago today. Iowa came out as the band were touring to promote it and while the band were further emerging from the success of their first and self titled debut album. We were promised a heavier and darker album and boy… did we get it and it was good too.For me, this was a turning point in the band because of how heavy it was, both musically and vocally for singer Corey Taylor. If you have it just listen to how hard he screams on the album and then, listen to his work after that on Stone Sour and later albums by both bands. You can hear the evolution in his singing and screaming from Iowa onwards and I think he has it all down to a science.
I remember the track Heretic Song was released to Radio as a rough mix of The Heretic Anthem, in June 2001. I actually like that version better than the one we get on Iowa, because there are more sounds at the end of it and that is my favourite thing about Slipknot. They weren’t afraid to put in such sounds as groans and screams just to give the song more energy. On later albums this happens sometimes but not as often as it did on the first two. Just think who they were working with at the time, to produce both albums! After all, Ross Robinson did produced the first two albums by Korn and the debut album by Limp Bizkit, as well as Roots by Sepultura and the sound was just as wild and live as was Slipknot’s sound at the time.
I was waiting all summer for the album to come out and when Left Behind was released as the first radio single, I was okay with it. Especially considering how heavy it and other songs I would hear on the radio from it, before the album was released. The songs: People = Shit, Disasterpiece, The Heretic Anthem, The Shape, I Am Hated, Skin Ticket and New Abortion were played on metal shows that I would listen to. There weren’t many interviews about the album that I heard before it came out but it didn’t matter because I didn’t expect to hear much from the band. They didn’t talk that much and that was fine with me at the time. Now they talk about a lot of stuff from their careers and that’s OK too.
This album is also significant for me in that it was the first one ever, that I actually purchased at midnight, the day of the release. I actually went downtown to the record store and bought it then and went home and gave the CD a spin or two or more, over the past 15 years. I can’t possibly go through the album track by track, so I will talk about as many songs as I can get my teeth into .
515 opens the album, with screams and sounds from DJ Sid Wilson. His Grandfather had recently died and all the emotion from that came out in that short avant-garde track.
People = Shit opened the album with the first full song, which came at the listener hard and fast, like Death Metal and it is certainly relentless. With fast vocals and intense screams and growls the song pummeled you into submission. It became a fan favourite immediately and is one of my favorites along with the track Eyeless from the first album.
Disasterpiece is much the same but a bit slower, with a slight let up in intensity in the breakdown. There is a bit of melody coming through in the vocals this time but after a reprieve the song goes back to its original high intensity. Much like the previous track it incorporates some elements of Death Metal but I think that Thrash Metal is more what is heard in this song.
My Plague is the second single and one of the few songs with a melodic chorus. However it still is as intense as the previous tracks. The single version has a much less intense lead vocal from Corey but despite that it still retains the same ferocity. It appears on the soundtrack of resident Evil, as well as the deluxe version of Iowa and the 2012 compilation Antennas To Hell.
Everything Ends goes back somewhat, to People = Shit and Disasterpiece but has some of the melody of My Plague in it. It is missing any trace of Extreme metal in it. However, it still is as angry and intense as anything else previous to it or yet to come.
The Heretic Anthem was the first single… sort of, but it was the rough mix that came out first with the slightly different title that I mentioned earlier. When it was played it also became a fan favourite just like People = Shit and Disasterpiece. I think the main reason for this is because of the chorus: “if your five five five then I’m six six six” which Corey would have the croud respond to before going into the song, with the sampled countdown from 8 to 0. As I said earlier, I like the rough mix because there was more sound effects at the end of the track like breaking glass and screams and grunts from Corey.
Gently is also another favourite of mine because of how it is structured. It starts off quiet and haunting then it builds to a Slipknot like crescendo at the end. It had been around for a few years, ever since before Corey joined the band and it was recorded for their debut EP Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. which came out in 1996 with original vocalist Anders Colsefani. He later stated that he had no problem with Corey taking over for him and called him a good guy. I’ve met Corey and despite what he is being known for now, (I-E) throwing fans out of Slipknot shows and dowsing people with bottles of water, who are using their smartphones at said concerts I agree.
Left Behind was the first single for radio but despite it’s melody it didn’t translate well to it. Thus, it was made a fan favourite. The strange thing about the end of the song is that it had a sound of an airplane and that was certainly scary For some people to hear that, especially after the September 11 attacks.
I can’t really say too much about: The Shape, I Am Hated, Skin Ticket, New Abortion or Metabolic because there really isn’t that much to say about those songs. All though if I had to talk about any of them, The Shape incorporates a loud quiet dynamic with the quiet verses and of course, the loud choruses. Skin Ticket does show a slower trippy side to the bands music and that later appears in songs like Iowa and Gehenna from All Hope Is Gone.
The final track Iowa is one that I can speak to because it is also a favourite of mine and I think it should have been released as a single, just to piss off some people if for no other reason then to just make them angry. It is such a long song with many ebbs and flows within it but it isn’t an easy ride through it. The song even includes back masking with the words “shit don’t look at me” being heard backwards during the second half of the song. The only reason I know what Corey is saying is that there is an iOS app called R-Player, which allows you to listen to your music backwards. I used it on my Beatles songs that had backwards singing and sounds and well… why not Slipknot?
The song has many sounds like sampled screams and evil laughs throughout. The other thing about it is that singer Corey Taylor has talked about how he recorded the vocals for it. He recorded the song While naked. He threw up all over himself and cut himself up with glass, just to bring out more intensity. Even other members of the band thought he was crazy to do this. But hay… it worked for the song and was a perfect way to end the album on a rather chilling note.
This album is my favourite and is indeed, the quintessential Slipknot album. After all, Iowa was named the greatest album of this century so far. Others are good but this one tops them all in the energy and in the musicians developments. There may not be any guitar solos on this album but there is some technicalities on this album musically. Just listen to the breakdown of My Plague and you will hear a slint of musical sophistication. Even the guitar riff for Left Behind has a degree of technicality to it. It reminds me of The Smashing Pumpkins 1996 single Zero but unlike that song, the riff goes up and down like a roller coaster. Yet, it is a relatively easy riff to play on guitar, if you listen to how it is being played. I won’t get into it here but just trust me on this.
Even the members of the band look to cull inspiration from this album for future albums with songs from All Hope Is Gone and .5, The Grey Chapter having elements from it on some songs on both albums. The track Goodby is a perfect example of how similar it and Gently are to each other in that they both start off quiet and haunting and build up to being heavy. All though in the case of Goodby, it goes into another song entirely, while Gently has a section which brings the song to its close. Even the track Gehenna from All Hope Is Gone sort of picks up where Skin Ticket left off but is much more subdued and trippy, yet still intense. Also, Corey has said that .5, The Grey Chapter would take elements from Iowa and Vol. 3, The Sabliminal Verses which they have done.
Will Slipknot ever try and perform Iowa in its entirety like other bands have performed full albums on tour? I can’t see it happening but you never can say never with them. They just might try it one night out of the blue and surprise all of us. I don’t put anything past them, even doing guest spots on animated TV shows. After all, most of the band our fathers and have offspring who are either fully grown or are still growing up. I can invision them on a Simpsons Treehouse Of Horror episode or a musical episode involving Otto, Bart or Homer. Well, I can dream… can’t I?
Well, that’s about it for todays entry. Talk to you sooner than you or I think and stay sic.