This is Slipknot’s best-selling album. It’s also considered one of their heaviest and darkest. While it may be easy to write off the album by saying nothing much has changed in since their debut, there are several changes that makes this record more intense than their first. Sure, some of the music may sound similar to the music on their first album, but the songs deal with darker topics. There are also a number of songs that show the band experimenting with their sound.
All the songs here are awesome and definitely feel like a punch in the face. They’re heavy, aggressive, and brutal, as we expect from the band, but the first few songs sound like material from their last album. The music sounds pretty much the same: crunching guitars, speeding drum solos, and record scratching. This doesn’t make the songs bad because even though they may sound the same, they are at least heavier and more intense than before. It feels like everything Slipknot did for this album is pushed to the max. Corey sounds angrier and more violent as he spits and hurls out the lyrics. And the percussion is featured more in the mix, which adds a lot to the harsh sound.
While all the songs are good there are some standout tracks that really shows the band playing with their sound. The eerie track “Gently” starts out slow with each element of music coming in one after the other. There’s even subtle whispering that adds a haunting quality to the song. Here the music sounds dramatically different from the other tracks. The music sounds more spacey with how the guitar echoes throughout the track. The riff here is also pretty melodic than in the other songs. The sound then abruptly changes style and tempo. It grows abrasive and distorted. It really catches you off guard. This is an underrated track by the band.
Another great song is the last track “Iowa.” This is the darkest and most disturbing song on the album. It’s also the slowest. There are strange isolated noises in the intro as the music begins to swell. Then strange maniacal laughing comes in and keeps going for the entire song. This is where the song begins to unnerve you. Corey Taylor sounds sinister and cryptic as he begins singing “Relax, it’s over you belong to me/I fill your mouth with dirt.” Taylor barely raises his voice in this song, except for some background yelling. The normal vocals really makes the song creepier. It makes you feel as if you have to look over your shoulder to make sure no one is following you. An intense and heavy track that will give you the chills.
The single “Left Behind” is a classic Slipknot song. It features an easy to sing chorus and has more melody than the other tracks, but it’s still a damn good song. It really grabs you by the throat due to the guitar riff that sounds like it’s looping around itself. The guitar is really great here because it sounds unstable, as if it wants to make you dizzy. The singing here is awesome too. Taylor switches between his soft vocals and his snarling yells. It adds a shocking dynamic to the song. One of the best singles from the album.
As mentioned before, the songs here deal with darker topics. Songs will often have references to mental breakdown, pain, isolation, hatred, and fear. Some of the songs get so heavy that they’ll start draining the life out of you. Your energy is sucked out and you’re only left with chilling sensations. There’s also a lot more violent and disturbing imagery in these songs. In the track “Disasterpieces” Taylor screams “I wanna slit your throat and fuck the wound/I wanna push my face in and feel the swoon.” While there were intense lyrics on their first album, they’re nothing like this.
Corey Taylor’s vocals are quite unique. He’s known mainly for his foaming at the mouth growling vocals, but he can also sing softly. It was featured a little bit on their previous effort, mainly on “Wait and Bleed,” but he uses his softer vocals a lot more here. Not only does it show another side of Taylor, it can add disturbing and aching feelings to the songs. It’s also great to hear that he doesn’t always have to yell to get his feelings across.
Overall, the album gets 8.5/10. Even though some of the songs sound similar to the material on their first album, the songs are still fierce. Here we see the band expand their sound and add more variety to their music. Everything on this record is inflated to it’s breaking point. The music is heavier, darker, more aggressive and intense. You can easily feel the anger and frustration in all of the songs. From start to finish the album will assault you with its abrasive sound.