The masked men of extreme metal are back, with new masks and a new sound that believe it or not will surprise many people. On the bands first two releases they combined thrash, death and nu-metal, rap, and techno for a sound that was fairly unique, yet perhaps overshadowed a bit by their garish costumes and masks, not to mention their insane live shows which bordered on an out of control circus. With Vol. 3, Slipknot tones down the extreme nature of their music, adding in many melodic and acoustic elements, as well as slowing down their metal onslaught by incorporating a doomier, Black Sabbath/Black Label Society vibe on a few cuts. To surpise you even more, there are even keyboards, cellos, and violins present, adding a neat little prog-rock twist to some of the more atmospheric cuts. Famed producer Rick Rubin has really given this band some new depth, as vocally and musically this album displays that there is some real talent behind the image.
Songs like "Three Nil" and "The Blister Exists" mix clean and melodic vocals, and both groove with blinding intensity as well as rock hard with crushing power chords and insane rhythms. The single "Duality" is a crunchy and addictive nu-metal anthem, with Mike Patton-inspired vocals and massive rhythm guitar riffs complemented by screaming pinch harmonic squeals. "Opium of the People" is a raging metal riff fest, complete with blinding guitar solos and maniacal vocal shouts, while the enthralling "The Virus of Life" is easily the best tune on the CD. This cut is a brooding, doom-laden crunch monster, that slays the listener with brutally slow guitar riffs, plodding rhythms, and all sorts of weird electronic & vocal effects.
Now, for the stuff that is not your typical Slipknot. "Circle" is an endearing & haunting acoustic number that could have easily come off a Porcupine Tree or Blackfield CD, complete with eerie strings and processed melodic vocals. Moody, lush, brooding, you name it, but it really works. "Vermillion" sees some Nine Inch Nails meet death metal mania, while the pulsating industrial grooves of "Pulse of the Maggots" is thoroughly addiciting thanks to the enticing use of electronics, bludgeoning riffs, wild prog-metal solos, and catchy vocals. On "Vermillion Pt. 2" the band again returns to the acoustic melancholy vibe, and the band gets even more progressive on the chilling "Danger-Keep Away", as they pull out the electric piano and lay down thick slabs of droning, Meddle-era Pink Floyd sounding vocals.
So, before you scoff at the fact that rock's bad boys Slipknot have been reviewed here on Sea of Tranquility, give this CD a listen, it just might surprise you. A very mature and adventurous release from a group who had previously made a living out of screaming their lungs out and streamrolling ahead with riffs that never stopped. I'm ready for more of this.
2. Blister Exists
3. Three Nil
5. Opium of the People
9. Pulse of the Maggots
10. Before I Forget
11. Vermilion, Pt. 2
13. Virus of Life
14. Danger - Keep Away