Following the death of bassist Paul Gray, the band found themselves in purgatory, and the resulting album was both the closure of one chapter of Slipknot, a nod to Paul and an appreciation of everything preceding it, but also the beginning of a new era; a rebirth, and all signs pointed towards a brutal, unrelenting future. What exactly did that future have in store? Well aside from keeping things ticking over with festival appearances and a live album, the band did initially return in 2018 with a rare stand-alone single “All Out Life”, reminding fans that they were still very much active creatively, with the track itself acting as a rallying cry, encouraging everyone to live in the now and not dwell on the past. This only got fans excited for what was to come…and what came was this; “We Are Not Your Kind”. What direction were Slipknot heading in in this new chapter of their storied career? I challenge you to all-out fucking listen with me…
We open up with “Insert Coin” and we’re greeted with a strangely ominous intro-track fuelled by semi-retro arcade style synths that meander gently, as the instrumentation washes over you with a calming motion. It’s as though we’re on the title screen here getting ready to press play and dive into this brand new game as Corey says in a chilling manner “I’m counting all the killers..” and it’s an interesting start. First track proper then “Unsainted” gets the album underway properly and what an opener…from the initially haunting children’s choir it gradually builds in atmosphere and intensity until it explodes into a frenzy of blistering vocals with pummelling riffs and percussion. It carries on from the previous album in terms of delivery; blending visceral verses with a clean, hook-rich chorus. It’s a powerful track.
From here on in however, the album gets VERY interesting…recent single “Birth Of The Cruel” slows things down with a more methodical riff and plenty of tinny percussion. Vocally clean for the most part until Corey lets rip during the chorus segments, countered by Sid Wilson’s trademark scratching harking back to the bands earlier days. “Death Because Of Death” is our first interlude and takes on an almost hypnotic tribal tone; simple and repetitive before transitioning straight into “Nero Forte”, instantly waking up the listener with more classic Slipknot riffs and up-tempo lyricism, again bridging the gap between the now and the bands early years. Another album highlight, “Critical Darling”, continues on with the “…Gray Chapter” aesthetic with plenty of key-changes, vocal switch-up techniques and allows for a variety of sensations, fluctuating effortlessly between harsh and harmonious.
This fluctuation is a reoccurring theme throughout the whole album in all honesty; it zigs where you think it’ll zag and vice versa…”Red Flag” is a traditionally blistering onslaught, fuelled by a frantic pacing and old-school aesthetic, again harking back to the Knot’s earlier days, while interlude “What’s Next” comes across as actual elevator music! Like, seriously lads what the fuck is next? Where else can you take this? “Spiders” houses an almost Halloween-esque piano lead allowing for a generally creepier vibe, bordering on polyrhythmic in places; it’s got a subtle prog delivery, before we eventually end on promotional single “Solway Firth”. Coming full circle from the intro, we count all the killers over a typically bombastic masked-metal approach that bridges gaps between modern era and the “…Subliminal Verses” days.
Ultimately what can be said about the Iowan’ nine in 2019? Their groove-heavy, pulverising metal is still there in abundance and coupled with their nu-metal origins, thrash sensibilities and Corey’s ability to deliver a mainstream alternative anthem, Slipknot are as Slipknot as ever here but MORE. There are no real definitive hits like “Dead Memories” or “Snuff” to appeal to the wider audience…fuck no; if anything they’ve gone the opposite direction. Sure there are some great hooks throughout this record, but the presentation here showcases so much experimentation and a lack of fucks given this is arguably Slipknot’s most prog-metal album to date. It doesn’t settle for a style, not even Slipknot’s own, and that’s where it deserves praise. We all know Slipknot can and will deliver, it’s practically a given these days, but they still opted to tear up their own rule-book and go crazy. “We Are Not Your Kind” is a metaphorical middle finger to not only the fans that just want Iowa 2.0, but also metal in general. It might be more experimental to what you are used to from the Clown and co…but fuck me this is a Slipknot album and a half. Insert another coin mate, I want another go at this…