Slipknot - All Hope Is Gone
Roadrunner Records
Commercialised Thrashcore, Modern Rock
12 songs (57:38)
Release year: 2008
Slipknot, Roadrunner Records
Reviewed by Goat
Major event

First things first: Slipknot once played a style of music heavily indebted to Nu-Metal, and denying this as the band and its fans seem determined to do is ridiculous. Although their debut self-titled album is several miles of quality above most Nu-Metal from the time, even if there wasn’t any rapping the Korn influence would be obvious, and even admitting that there are elements of Extreme Metal in there, it’s hardly enough to place Slipknot in that ‘genre’. No, all the little maggots out there can’t change the past simply because Metal’s back in favour these days – Slipknot are to Extreme Metal what Trivium are to Thrash, a pale imitation designed specifically for teenagers who can’t cope with the real deal.

That, then, is the next point of contention: there is no way that people above the age of sixteen can take Slipknot’s image seriously, not back when the band were making their own costumes, and especially not now when the first pictures of the new masks are almost as newsworthy as the release of the album itself. Even Power Metal has a tongue placed firmly in its frilly-shirted cheek, and given the mental states of certain individuals in the Black Metal world the less fun I make of them the better; yet reading interviews with Slipknot which stress how many hits of acid the DJ apparently once took simultaneously make it hard to see beyond the incessant ‘wow, these guys are really damn crazy’ marketing that Roadrunner pumps out like liquid shit. Considering that the oldest member of the band is pushing forty, surely they must be asking themselves some serious questions? Questions such as, is it our life’s goal to appeal to teenagers by singing about dysfunctional emotions and putting lots of pictures of abandoned houses in our album artwork?

I pre-ordered All Hope Is Gone with a genuinely optimistic air, forking out the few extra Pounds for the bonus digipack without question. After all, Volume 3 was a surprisingly good album, building on the martial element and experimenting without sacrificing the band’s songwriting skills. Yet it’s not until you’re about halfway through All Hope Is Gone that you realise just how little impact it has had on you. After .execute, a build-up intro without a hint of the skill or style of previous intros such as Prelude 3.0, Gematria (The Killing Name) splutters into life, coming quite close to recent Machine Head, and for a moment things are looking up. That is, until Corey Taylor starts yelling, and all at once everything comes crashing down. Whilst his clean vocals are passable in a sort of daytime radio-Rock fashion, somewhere along the line he blew his voice and now the only thing approaching harsh vocals are a Hardcore-y grunt that sounds like Hatebreed’s Jamey Jasta with a sore throat. Throw in some nonsensical lyrics (‘America is the killing name/It doesn’t feel or discriminate’) and the only thing keeping you listening by the end of the song is Joey Jordison’s admittedly pretty good drumming.

For all the hype about this Slipknot album being the most Metal yet, the actual Metal quotient is what you’d expect – nothing to write home about. There’s an audible Thrash/Hardcore quality to the guitars, repetitive chugging (and the occasional solo, but not as many as you’d think, considering even Static-X managed to include plenty on their last album – presumably the guitarist was too busy dating Christina Scabbia to be bothered with more solos) sometimes being given a Death Metal feel with Jordison’s double-bass work. The best moments on All Hope Is Gone are actually the most commercial ones; the choruses, the singalong moments that you sense are what Slipknot really wanted to focus on, because they’re all great! Uplifting, melodic, easily better than whatever’s on daytime Rock radio at the moment; Sulfur’s chorus being the first moment in the album when I started to sit up and enjoy what I was hearing, even if the song does go totally Nu-Metal at the end.

First single Psychosocial is the album highlight, fusing the new Thrashy elements with the older pseudo-Industrial clanging to brilliant effect. Of course, Slipknot will forever be the band with four more members than it needs, but the efforts of the two percussionists aren’t completely wasted here as they mostly are elsewhere. In fact, most of the songs on the album could be from Corey’s Stonesour side-project. Dead Memories is a sort of atmospheric clean-sung mid-pacer with added riffs, Vendetta an overly-long crowd-chanting little number that sounds oddly like Amon Amarth crossed with Marilyn Manson. Butcher’s Hook has swearing, lots of scratching from DJ Sid (anything to keep him off the acid, I suppose) and not enough variety in the groovy riffs, but none of these are as good as older Slipknot songs. Hell, even the rap-heavy Spit It Out from the band’s debut is more memorable.

That’s the problem with All Hope Is Gone, ultimately; it lacks life. Chuck a few ‘Core riffs, a weird electronic/percussive bit and a big chorus into the blender, and you get the majority of the songs here, and by the time you’ve sat through them all there’s little to make you want to go back and listen to them again, especially not the dreadful Gehenna, which sounds exactly like Nickleback trying to rip off Moonspell and failing badly – for seven minutes! Neither would you want to repeatedly listen to This Cold Black which sounds like a generic hardcore band with added percussion, ditto Wherein Lies Continue with added big chorus.

As for Snuff, a power-ballad with lines like ‘I still press your letters to my lips’ and ‘I couldn’t face a life without your light’, well… if you like that sort of thing, you’ll like this. The rest of you, just make sure you have a bucket handy whilst listening. Fortunately the last decent song on the album comes straight after, the cod-Death Metal of the title track sounding almost exactly like something from Volume 3 and so being better than a fair amount of the songs here.

In terms of bonus materials, do yourself a favour and avoid the special edition digipack. It can’t have been that hard to include a pocket for the booklet to sit in, Roadrunner, and yet there isn’t one, meaning the damn thing falls out every time you pick it up! A quick word for the bonus tracks: so-so, crap and crap respectively. As for the bonus DVD, well, a new low has been reached. Once you’ve navigated your way through what must be the most annoying menu in history (press the arrow keys to get through it as quickly as possible) you’re treated to what must be the most boring making-of in history.

So, guess what? The new Slipknot album sucks, and I wasted eleven Pounds of my money on it. Most of you will probably swap high-fives and get back to Deathspell Omega or Lost Horizon, but those who were hopeful for something decent from the band might quibble, and want to try it anyways. At the end of the day, although many Metalheads seem to be doing it I refuse to praise a band that claims to be Metal for including riffs and solos on an album as they should. Great, so Slipknot have changed their style slightly to fit in with fashion. Sorry, but that does not equal praise in my book, especially when the result is as dull as this.

MySpace
Killing Songs :
Psychosocial, Dead Memories, All Hope Is Gone
Goat quoted 56 / 100
Other albums by Slipknot that we have reviewed:
Slipknot - Voliminal: Inside The Nine (DVD) reviewed by Dylan and quoted no quote
Slipknot - Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses) reviewed by Aleksie and quoted 81 / 100
Slipknot - Iowa reviewed by Shane and quoted 76 / 100
Slipknot - Slipknot reviewed by Shane and quoted 49 / 100
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