Release Year: 2008
Ten years ago, Slipknot changed gears and experimented with their sound on their fourth album, All Hope is Gone. Though the record was generally well received and even was their first to debut at number one, it’s not a fan favorite. The record has been dismissed by fans and the band themselves for its standard heavy metal sound an album that divided fans and has been dismissed by the band themselves. Even the band doesn’t remember it too fondly. The shift towards a standard heavy metal sound is jarring, but it’s still an intense record. Yet, something is missing that made their previous efforts brutal, memorable, and exciting. While it’s not a terrible record, it is among their weakest.
“Gematria (Killing Name) is an absolute beast and kicks the LP off on a great note. It has a rush of aggression right from the dizzying guitar riff that opens the song. Things get more intense as Corey Taylor sings “What if God doesn’t care?!” as if he’s preparing listeners for a battle. Though it has an awesome energy and drive behind it, at over six minutes long it doesn’t hold your attention. After a while, everything melds together and you’re ready to move on to the next track. It’s not a song that stays with you very long and it’s an issue that permeates the album.
Very few of the songs are terrible, except for “Vendetta,” which seems better suited for Stone Sour. Tracks like “Butcher’s Hook,” “This Cold Black,” and “Sulfur” aren’t bad songs at all. They’re standard Slipknot fair with tons of aggression, violence, and anger dripping throughout every bar. But that’s really all you can say about them save for a killer guitar riff or two. Some of the lyrics are interesting, but something about them doesn’t hit you the same way the band’s other songs do. Many of the tracks found here are some of their most forgettable.
Luckily, there are some great moments. Though “Psychosocial” wasn’t well received on initial release, it’s actually the most memorable song from the album. The spiraling guitar riff, the pounding pulse that opens the song, and the harsh tone gets your adrenaline pumping for what’s about to come. The part with the bridge where the music drops and everyone screams “The limits of the dead!” is so intense it gives you goosebumps. The song also shows what Slipknot have mastered over the years. It’s a great example of the melodic and brutal melding together. It’s still a stellar track ten years later.
“Dead Memories” is another stand out track. There’s a bit of sonic shift where the guys go more for a standard rock sound. The lighter music and cleaner tones make it one of their more accessible singles. Not to mention the hook is memorable with Corey gently singing “Dead memories in my heart.” It’s a great song, but one that can definitely split fans in two.
Slipknot gets a bit experimental on the excellent “Gehenna.” Similar to songs “Purity” and “Prosthetics,” it has an unsettling nature. The distorted music crawls along while eerie sounds and wailing Theremins put you on edge. Taylor sounds broken and on the verge of snapping as he sings “The blood and the body /control the cut so it’s seamless/show me your heart/show me the way to complete this.” Even when he croons “Free my severed heart/give me you” he manages to sound creepy, not mention the maniacal laugh he throws in. It’s a haunting experience and one of the best tracks on the record.
Slipknot has experimented with ballads in the past, but none are as naked and heartbreaking as “Snuff.” Another album highlight, the song is the band’s softest moment with Taylor singing about the pains of betrayal with an acoustic guitar accompanying him. From the downtrodden music to Taylor’s fragile state, the track leaves you saddened and emotionally exhausted. Everything keeps building to a climactic, yet quiet conclusion. Though music gets more intense near the end, it still doesn’t reach the same volume as the previous tracks. It’s a haunting, yet beautiful track that shows Slipknot aren’t just about crushing guitars and screaming their heads off.
Is All Hope is Gone a bad album? No, it’s actually solid. Is it a lackluster Slipknot album? Yes. In some spots, it sounds like Slipknot doing the same ‘ol same ‘ol: being loud, aggressive, and in your face. In other parts, it’s just there. Very few of the songs are bad, but most of them don’t hold your attention for long. Most of them aren’t even memorable. There are some stellar songs, but most of the album is decent at best. It doesn’t leave you bloodied and searing like past releases. It’s not their finest, but it was an album that had to be made in order for Slipknot back on their game.