Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses, by Slipknot
Suggested by Andy Scott-Morrissey
I hated Slipknot.
I’ve never heard Slipknot, to my knowledge, but that didn’t stop the hatred. Slipknot were the Big New Thing of Metal, at one time, and in my mind, and the mind of my friends, they were threatening. Looking at them now, it’s hard to understand exactly why I thought nine cosplaying gimps with names such as Clown, 133, #0, and Cuddles could threaten anyone.
This was the mid-Nineties, and the Nu Metal sound was a burgeoning force that was, I guess, fighting the good fight against Grunge in the wake of Kurt Cobain’s death. While there was a vacuum to fill with sound, I wanted my sound, my classic Metal and Thrash sound, to make a glorious and triumphant return. I didn’t want this Nu Crap, with its synths and its DJs and its posing. So I ignored it, and mocked it, and hated it. My reaction was all very Father Ted. “Down with that sort of thing!” … “Careful now!”
Moods mellow, and opinions change, and eventually I came to embrace the Nu Metal sound. The genre’s influencers, like Faith No More and Primus, were always high on my playlists, and acts such as Incubus and Korn saw regular play in Chez Craig. I never bothered with Slipknot, mind. It was partly because I was drifting from metal in general, but mostly through principle and sheer bloody-mindedness. As fat as I was concerned, they could stuff their kooky masks up their slipknots.
Today, I fired up Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses, having never heard Volumes one or two, or knowing if there is a volume one or two. I left my preconceptions at the door, and vowed to give them my full and frank attention.
My verdict? Massive dose of meh.
It just didn’t grip me. The best I could say is that I listened to it from start to finish.
It’s quite a binary sound, largely defined by songs that are a mite heavier than I expected, with a sprinkling of songs that are a mite lighter than I expected. After the strangely swirling psychadelia of Prelude 3.0, The Blister Remains brings in the band’s signature tightly chugging guitar and drilling drumbeats, with some decent shouty vocals that squat short of growl and a song structure that builds to a decent conclusion. The formula continues with mild tweaks for three more songs, before we hit Metal Ballad territory in Circle. Then it’s back to the heavy stuff for a few tracks, until Vermillion Pt 2, then more heavy tracks until the closer Danger – Keep Away.
There’s plenty of nuance and intricacy in each of the heavy tracks. Some present with almost rap vocals, such as the acerbic Three Nil. Some feel almost proggy, or experimental, such as Pulse of the Maggots. Some are stuttering rockers with more mainstream hooks, like my standout Before I forget. But despite these interesting things, I find that I just don’t care. I just don’t want to like Slipknot, and so I don’t. This album can go jump off a cliff.
I give Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses a median 5/10. I know I didn’t fulfil my brief of giving this listen a fair shot, but I’ll not lose any sleep because of it.