American metal icons, Slipknot, released their brand new album, We Are Not Your Kind on the 9th of August via Roadrunner Records.
25 years into this globally famous band’s career and we are only getting a 6th album now. Side projects, hiatuses and tragedy have often plagued Slipknot but somehow, even with all that, when they don their masks and say they are back, the world ripples with excitement and expectation. That expectation was increased dramatically off the back of a collection of exciting singles. We have had two recent singles from We Are Not Your Kind. The first one was the very solid Unsainted. Read our full review of that track here. That was followed by the excellent Solway Firth. You can read all about that one here.
But how does the rest of the album shape up? Well, pretty well actually. It certainly shows that Slipknot are still relevant and still have plenty to offer to the world of metal and beyond. That isn’t to say it is a phenomenal album though. It isn’t. It has faults and falls a long way short of their best work but does show a band that are expanding. Incorporating more elements and moving with the times while hanging on to that youthful aggression that made them so popular in the first place.
After a standard noise intro called Insert Coin, we head into the first single, Unsainted. Unsainted is the popular, Duality styled track that will grab the radio play. A good and catchy song with little nods to Slipknot expanding their sound with the choir vocals especially. Birth of the Cruel brings in Jonathon Davis styled singing in the intro before turning into a punishing machine. The riffs are great and the vocals cut deep with added scratching and the like. It always feels like it is on the verge of explosion but it never quite comes, instead feeling a little reserved and held back. Next up is Death Because of Death which is another little noise intermission with tribal drumming and clean vocals.
Nero Forte has seriously cool drumming and riffs in a frantic start. Corey spits vocals venomously with lines like “I haven’t felt like this in years”. The chorus throws a clean, poppy chorus in the mix which threw my at first but it’s catchy and suits the song nicely. The following instrumental section has absolutely punishing drums before a really clever ending verse with a gang vocal shout at the start of each line that, on their own say “Why did I Not See Your True Face Until It Was Too Late”. Very clever, especially from masked men.
Critical Darling brings in a wavy electronica line before exploding with a chunky groove and quick vocals. The chorus is clean again, well sung but after the crushing verse you feel it was crying out for a moment of rage and again feels like they are holding back a bit. The verses though, damn, they are brilliant. Same for the building prechorus. The minute or so of ending noise isn’t really necessary though. A Liars Funeral starts like a ballad with acoustic guitars and clean singing bringing thoughts of Stone Sour. It builds eventually to a powerful and pained roar of Liar before dropping back again. The song builds in points but pretty much always drops back to slow again. There are a couple great little solos though, something we don’t always get with Slipknot. It’s there slow broody song, just a little cleaner than songs like Gently.
Red Flag speeds things back up nicely with a chunky riff and wicked run beats. Vocals come at you fast and hard with lots of little DJ and scratching moments separating verses. It’s a great song, a real pit destroyer. What’s Next leaves you looking for what’s next as it’s another small musical interlude. Spiders follows and has the start of a horror movie to it with the high chime, Halloween esque bells. Vocals are clean but menacing as the song slowly builds with increasing drums and adding guitar notes. It’s an interesting song, at best. It could also be called a confusing mess at times.
Orphan builds with atmospheric laws before exploding into life with a vicious verse. The chorus is good, again dropping into cleans. The verses are intense though and up there with the heaviest heard from modern Slipknot. My Pain is another slow builder that feels ready to explode but instead builds into a Devin Townsend styled song with tapped drums and electronic noises over echoing vocals and clean ringing guitars. It’s weird. Really weird, despite having some dark undertones, especially in the lyrics.
Not Long for this World makes up for My Pain though. Gentle building tones lead into clean vocals that build into a nice, rocking beat with chunky guitars. It stays clean in vocals ending the verse with a roar. We get a similar second section before it finally does what the whole album has threatened and explodes with angst and fury. Chuck in some cool solos and drum work and you have a Slipknot classic on your hands. We Are Not Your Kind ends with the second single, the banger, Solway Firth.
We Are Not Your Kind is good. Really good at times with Solway Firth, Nero Forte, Red Flag and Not Long For This World being absolute bangers. Other songs, like Birth of the Cruel and My Pain feel a little held back, like they weren’t sure how heavy they could go. I felt they were crying out for a little bit of pure unadulterated aggression at points in the album. A physical manifestation of anger and frustration being let loose but it rarely comes, only occasionally in verses. In regards to expanding their sound though there are plenty of moments where you can see Slipknot growing with the times. Spiders is really different and will probably be a bit of a marmite song. My Pain as well. A Liars Funeral sees Stone Sour influences bed well in with Slipknot too.
Overall though, a very strong album with plenty of replayability from a band that may not quite have the angst of their youth but can still throw a cracking song together with enough relatable frustration to capture a new generation of maggots.
We Are Not Your Kind by Slipknot (Roadrunner Records)
The Final Score - 8/10