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Slipknot - We Are Not Your Kind (Album Review)

Wednesday, 21 August 2019 Written by Huw Baines

Metal, like so many strains of alternative music, has the capability to eat itself when a band breaks through and becomes wildly popular. Surely, conventional wisdom holds, they cannot continue to push boundaries or smash skulls if they outsell the pop stars of the day? Well, Slipknot have been coming up with answers to that question for 20 years.

‘We Are Not Your Kind’, the masked titans’ sixth LP, was trumpeted as another exercise in cross-pollinated brutality—a real life metal record that, in the vein of ‘Iowa’, wouldn’t skimp on the grisly stuff while still delivering unit-shifting mass appeal. By and large, it achieves that aim. At times it’s a truly dangerous beast. At others, not so much.

As drummer Jay Weinberg ramps up the blastbeats towards the end of Unsainted, for example, or when Corey Taylor drags up a gut-wrenching roar to lead in the mid-tempo nu-metal chug of Critical Darling, then one might feel the urge to, in Slipknot-appropriate stage vernacular, tear this fucking place apart.

In moments like these, ‘We Are Not Your Kind’ takes great pleasure in doing the things that the most enduring Slipknot songs must in order to survive. Even shorn of Chris Fehn, another foundational member gone from the group, they have enough keg strikes and monster breakdowns to gleefully satisfy the old breed.

But there is a major issue undoing this good work—‘We Are Not Your Kind’ is long. Like, over an hour long, with four songs topping six minutes and a couple more falling just short. At times, particularly during its quasi-ballads and interludes, it feels interminable. 

These are momentum-sapping lapses that leave a bitter taste of what might have been with a judicious edit. Songs like Spiders and A Liar’s Funeral are buzzkills of the most egregious sort, and perhaps wouldn’t have been allowed to darken the doorways of surgical metal upstarts like Vein or Employed to Serve.

Slipknot are still the masters of their own spacious corner in the modern scene, though. No-one else can do what they do on the same scale—even stadium-flattening bands like Rammstein must do without their wide-reaching cultural imprint. An album like ‘We Are Not Your Kind’, full of old tricks and quieter asides, will only add to that, even if it can’t outpunch their classic releases.

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