Slipknot are back with new masks, a new member and a new album appropriately called ‘We Are Not Your Kind’. As a long time Maggot, I was waiting for this release with impatience. I was not the biggest fan of their previous record, ‘.5: The Gray Chapter’, but the first two singles are interesting and their performance at Jimmy Kimmel proved that they still have it. This album was not easy to review: after listening to it once, I didn’t really like it and almost decided to skip it completely. I thought the songs were too long, that the choruses were too close to Taylor’s Stone Sour project, and that they changed their sound a bit too much. I soon realized that I had misjudged it completely. It’s a challenging album that asks listeners to be invested in the songs and their subject matter. It gets better with each listening, and I am glad that I gave it a second chance.
Like every Slipknot album, it starts with a creepy intro that teases the mood of the album. ‘Insert Coin’ is full of weird noises, industrial sounds and disjointed tones. It has that 80’s horror movie vibe but even more menacing. Taylor whispers: ‘‘Today, upon this hill, I’m counting all the killers’’ and we go directly into their first single called ‘Unsainted’. This is the song that got me hooked on the album. The chorus is reminiscent of ‘All Hope Is Gone’ but the rest of the song has that ‘Iowa’ vibe that I’ve been looking for since ‘Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses’. Drummer Jay Weinberg is a true star on this song and, to be honest, on the whole album. His drumming is tight and creative: he shines when things get weird and, on this album, it happens quite often. ‘Birth of the Cruel’ is a good example of this weirdness. It’s a song like nothing they have done before. It sounds a lot like Korn, especially with the way that the verses are sung. However, the added percussions, scratching effects and screaming vocals are definitely Slipknot. ‘Nero Forte’ is probably my favorite track on ‘We Are Not Your Kind’. It has that intensity and dark energy that made me a Maggot in the first place. Taylor spits out verses that drools with anger and switches to a clean catchy chorus that brings a bipolarity to the song. The percussion segment is excellent and it feels like it was written with the live set in mind.
The second part of the album is where things gets even weirder. ‘A Liar’s Funeral’ has almost a prog style to it: it starts out slow and builds to a climax that impressed the hell out of me. Taylor has never sounded so full of rage and despair as when he is screaming on ‘’Liar’’. Then comes ‘Red Flag’ and it’s the closest thing we’ll ever get to an ‘Iowa’ part two. ‘Spiders’ changes the vibe completely, featuring only clean vocals and a very pop-ish bass line. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. The keyboard is particularly good and brings back memory of the score to John Carpenter’s ‘Halloween’. The last three tracks close the album perfectly. Each is very different from the other and they all exploit a different skillset of the band. ‘Orphan’ is guitar oriented and the riffs are sublime; ‘Not Long for This World’ focuses on the vocals and sampling, then ‘Solway Firth’ brings out the serial killer vibe out of the band. Definitely, they know how to impose respect. Surprisingly the song ‘All Out Life’ is not included on the regular version of the album. It seems strange since it was used to promote the new album and you can even hear Taylor screams ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ at the end of it.
In conclusion, the album is full of subtleties, surprises and experimentation. It can be overwhelming at first but once you start figuring out where all the pieces go, you end up with one of Slipknot’s strongest release in years. It now sits on top of multiple countries chart and it’s well deserved.