It takes a lot of moxie to be around for over two decades. That may not be the word Slipknot would use to describe themselves, but it doesn’t make it any less true — they have, in their own ways, pushed the aesthetic and sonic boundaries of heavy and nu-metal since their official self-titled debut in 1999. With that length of time comes a level of consistency — we’ve grown to expect a certain output, especially when they’ve proven they’re so damn good at it.
Still, that doesn’t mean they’re without their moments of experimentation. In fact, they’ve been dipping their toes into more acoustic and melodic tones since 2004’s Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). Probably the biggest deviation from the typical frenzy was 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind, where heavy guitar riffs and forceful drums stepped out of center stage for shining keyboard licks. Yet, on their latest effort, THE END, SO FAR, they find a balance between the subdued sides they shown on We Are Not Your Kind and their utter savagery that’s kept them a mainstay for so long.
The opening track “Adderall,” for instance, takes after its namesake in its calming and focused effects. Singer Corey Taylor yet again showcases how his vocal range is not one solely bred for aggression (and in a way that’s maybe a little different than Stone Sour). The instrumentals do that, too, imploring soft pianos, downtempo synths and acoustic guitar. It’s not exactly how one would expect an opening track of a Slipknot album to sound, considering how individually jarring each one has been. In actuality, it’s the perfect way to open THE END, because it keeps the listener on their toes just like the rest of the record does.
We already knew THE END had some heft to it thanks to singles “The Dying Song (Time to Sing)” and “The Chapeltown Rag” (especially its closing breakdown) teasing some of the album’s highlights. “H377” is as classically Slipknot as it gets, but “Yen” might make you ears perk with familiarity. It’s reminiscent of Vol. 3’s “Vermillion,” and a perfect summation of the entire album itself — balancing heaviness with harmonies, highlighting the different ways Taylor uses his voice effectively. At times, he sounds a bit country. At others, he’s almost at the maximum capacity of his screams. It instrumentally keeps up with him, with Mick Thompson and Jim Root dirty dancing their guitars, and Jay Weinberg maintaining the song’s strength with near blast beats.
“Warranty” also walks this balanced line. Wrath and rancor are its driving forces with cool effects, clamorous breaks and overall chaos. On “Warranty,” though, those thunderous peaks are mellowed out by the midsection, which sees a choir chiming in for the theatrical sugar on top. In contrast, the biggest curveball — and definite standout track — is “Acidic.” Unlike really anything we’ve heard from Slipknot before, it melds as close to blues as nu- and heavy metal can get, with a Faith No More meets Soundgarden-esque type of gritty, grungy, ’90s energy. It’ll throw you for a loop, but of course it will.
With “Finale” resolving the gentility of the opener, like a dramatic coda, THE END, SO FAR is exactly what we needed from them right now. For maggots and non-superfans alike, anyone who has ever found any bit of the band hard-hitting, invitingly pugnacious, or just straight up entertaining, then there’ll for sure be something to delight in on THE END, SO FAR. As a new release, it’s got more than enough exploratory factors to keep the band from sounding stale, but it also stays true to the sounds that have turned us all into maggots in the first place.
Essential Tracks: “Adderall,” The Dying Song (Time to Sing),” “Warranty,” “Acidic”
Stream Slipknot’s THE END, SO FAR in the Apple Music or Spotify player below, and pick up tickets to the band’s upcoming shows here.