When voting on which band to do one of these 8-Track lists on, many of us immediately voted for Slipknot. They don’t really get a lot of love from us and we think it’s a shame. Their latest record, .5: The Gray Chapter, was superb and they’ve always been a band that has made very quality metal, even if it was shunned by purists. They set their sights on conquering the world from the beginning and literally hundreds of sold out shows later, it’s fair to say that they are well within the pantheon of biggest metal bands ever. Time after time, Slipknot have proven that they can still make heavy, memorable music with five albums spanning a 15-year career.
If you’re a fan of metal, you’ve likely heard at least one of their songs before, and if you’ve ever been to a show, you know what an experience it is. Today, we’ve selected tracks from all of their studio records that exemplify the band the best. Read on to find out what we chose, and find out our thoughts on our songs of choice!
Slipknot – Eyeless (1999)
Slipknot’s self-titled debut is a complete nightmare, and we mean that in the best possible way. From start to finish, it’s a visceral, inventive, psychotic and brutal assault that’s become one of the hallmarks of nü-metal. Sure, the album has countless hits that are still fan favorites to this day, but no other track perfectly encapsulates this record quite like “Eyeless.”
Kicking things off with a bit of DJ/sample interplay, the song builds up masterfully into a huuuuuge intro riff before frontman Corey Taylor starts delivering some of his most paranoid, varied, and bloodcurdling vocals to date. You can really feel all of the hatred, angst and pain coming through Taylor, and it doesn’t hurt that it’s all being backed up by Joey Jordison going completely ham behind the drum kit. But about halfway through the song, that’s when things really get going. “Eyeless” sports some of Slipknot’s greatest breakdowns, and the final one caps things off perfectly with one of the single greatest screams in heavy music. MOTHER…….FUUUUUCCCCCKKKKEEEERRRR!!!
So yeah, listen to this again.You can’t see California without Marlon Brando’s eyes.
Iowa – The Heretic Anthem (2001)
Slipknot went down a different road with Iowa. While still retaining their heaviness, and surpassing their previous record, they dealt with a whole new emotion that they never really dealt with in depth before: rage. The entire record, from start to finish, is an experiment in anger, a collection of rage in steps from beginning to end. “The Heretic Anthem” is the pinnacle of this rage, and it’s the standout track on the album. Right in the middle of the record, it’s faster than anything the band had done before. It’s extremely technical when it comes to the drums. The guitar work is some of the band’s finest. And the lyrics themselves speak of their utter rage and blatant disregard for bystanders’ wellbeings. This is evident by lyrics in the song, my favorite being the following lines from the second verse:
Everybody’s so infatuated
Everybody’s so completely sure of what we are
Everybody defamates from miles away
But face to face they haven’t got a thing to say
This speaks volumes and did so before social media became widely popular. After all, this was written in 2000, long before Myspace or Facebook. Corey Taylor had a very strong point then, and the fact that it remains relevant today shows just how good this song is. Lyrically, musically, and conceptually, this song embodies the rage we all experience at some point in our lives, and that’s why it’s one of Slipknot’s finest.
Iowa – New Abortion (2001)
At the tail end of this record comes a song that many fans seem to overlook, and I still can’t find a reason why they do so. “New Abortion” is a track that is a bit of a dark horse. It’s at the end of the record, and by this time, you are mentally drained. The rage and hatred that occupies this record has driven you into a state of utter emotional exhaustion. However, this song is its own force to be reckoned with. The lyrics alone speak volumes about those that are never considered valid and are often ignored, which is made evident by the following set of lyrics from the second verse:
They always say that it’s always our fault
But everything we say is taken with a grain of salt
Man, it’s always the same, if we talk or complain
We only wanna upset the balance
How’s it feel to be the New Abortion?
The only generation to suffer extortion
This song speaks to their fans. Even now, I still get weird looks when I listen to Slipknot. They have always been a band that many people judged you for listening to, one way or another. Honestly, I never understood it. But this song makes me not care what others think. The heaviness after the bridge with the lyrics “You can’t take my soul away from me!” speak to all of their fans near and far. The sheer power coming from the rhythm section in this song is incomparable to anything else the band has done, and quite frankly, I think this is one of the best songs the band has ever written. “New Abortion” isn’t just a dark horse; it’s the entire fanbase’s secret anthem.
Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) – The Nameless (2004)
Considering how experimental an album Vol. 3 was, one of the best and most Slipknot tracks of the bunch is “The Nameless”. If ever there was a quintessential pick for a perfect “pop metal” track then this would be it. It doesn’t have the Grammy winning pedigree of “Before I Forget” or the memorability attached to “Duality”. Instead, it has some of the most jarring examples of the contradictory nature of the band. Pop and metal combining to create a beast with more legs than probably necessary.
Beginning with an atypical, jitterbug ‘knot riff, “The Nameless” quickly drops into the standard pace of Vol. 3.; Jordison’s flat four snare hits and the open chugging riffs associated with every Slipknot record since . It’s the journey that the rest of this track takes the listener that merits its inclusion here. The boy band chorus which teases, comes good and finally whips back in to draw the track to a close is so, so perfect. The “oohs” and “aahs” over Taylor’s soft sung words are just as powerful as the sounds that make up the chorus of “Spit It Out”. Squeezed in between some of the most overpowering layers of Taylor vocals on this record, the soft sensibilities of Slipknot get to run rampant, without getting as melancholy or droll as certain other tracks on this one. It’s a perfectly metal pop track, only forgotten because it’s one of the latter tracks on this fine specimen of a record.
Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) – Prelude 3.0 (2004)
Every Slipknot record has a great introduction and this is the best of the bunch. “Prelude 3.0” probably sent a series of shivers down the collective spine of maggots all over the world upon the first listen. Quite rightly so. The entrance of some seriously wet synths and a clean picked guitar ditty set the bar for the range of sounds and textures that would pop up all over Vol. 3., a bar that would constantly shift between raging alternative rock and dark pop. It’s a rare introduction track in that it stands on its own as a Slipknot song, just as much as it is important in kicking into “The Blister Exists”. The repeated line of “now it’s over” always seemed odd seeing as it’s the first fucking track but in retrospect, it could very well be in reference to people’s assumptions and expectations of the band. By the end of this, the unassuming rage of Iowa has almost been left at the side of the road. Slipknot would go on to smash the preconceptions of what a popular metal album should sound like, with “Prelude 3.0” being the catalyst for said smashing. The cascading drum fills and threadbare guitars took a back seat to instrumentation not expected from the Iowa hate machine, the rest is audio history.
All Hope Is Gone – Snuff (2008)
Slipknot are handily best known for their more extreme take on nu-metal, with hyper-aggressive drumming, heavy riffing, and intense vocal delivery. For a time, Slipknot were the most popular metal band and THE band to know in many circles, and it’s all thanks to tracks like “Wait and Bleed” and “Duality.” You know, fast and angsty songs about hate and pain.
That isn’t to say that Slipknot have always been a one-note band; the group finally became comfortable with the idea of writing ballads on Vol. 3. when they dropped “Vermilion Part 2”, a vulnerable acoustic-driven song that was the closest thing the band have ever gotten to a “love song” up to that point in time, and it turned many heads as it opened up an entire new door for Slipknot that they would later enter again for All Hope Is Gone’s “Snuff.”
“Snuff” remains as the best example of the depth of Slipknot’s emotional range, and is an expertly crafted anthem for those dealing with lost love or are currently experiencing a disintegrating relationship. Incredibly dynamic songwriting aside, Corey Taylor’s delivery of the song’s lyrics seems pained and sincere in a performance worthy of the goosebumps and tears that many of us experienced because of hearing this song during tough times. “Snuff” may not do much to distance the band away from the teenage angst that defined them for so many years, but it certainly helped them broaden their horizons and transcend the “angry white boy” mentality that plagued the scene in which they inhabited for so long.
.5: The Gray Chapter – Devil In I (2014)
One of the first singles to come from their latest album, the release of “Devil In I” marked a significant point in the history of Slipknot. It had been six years since their last studio album, and in the intervening period the band had tragically lost their spiritual leader, bassist Paul Gray, to an overdose. Not only that, but founding drummer Joey Jordison had also parted ways with the band in acrimonious circumstances, which meant the band was undergoing significant lineup changes for the first time since the late ‘90s. Both of these former members were key songwriters, forcing guitarist Jim Root to step up to the plate and write most of the new record, including this track. The music video is one of the best you’ll see as it depicts each band member being killed in their old mask, reveals them in their new masks for the first time, and shows both of the new band members for the first time as well.
Moving to the song itself, it starts with a thrashy little intro, as the guitars and drums get into a nice groove before it transitions into the section which will later reveal itself as the chorus. Featuring a catchy yet heavy riff with a great hook, and accompanied by windmill-inducing drumming, the track was an obvious choice to be a single. The music then subdues itself during the verses, allowing Taylor’s melodic vocals to take centre stage before the track explodes into the chorus, where Taylor combines both clean and harsh vocals. Melodic enough to get radio airplay, yet heavy enough to get a mosh pit firing, the song strikes an excellent balance between the two sides of Slipknot’s sound. What’s more, the two new members sound right at home, with the drumming in particular fitting like a glove.
.5: The Gray Chapter – Custer (2014)
The heaviest song on the new record, this track explodes right out of the gate with an aggressive riff and punishing, driving drumming. The music then takes a backseat as Taylor makes a spoken word entrance before we head into the verses, where scathing harsh vocals combine with tremolo picked guitars to build-up towards the pre-chorus. Arguably the most recognisable part of the song, this anthemic section will be guaranteed to have the entire crowd chanting “Cut, cut, cut me up and fuck, fuck, fuck me up” as the mosh pit explodes into an absolute frenzy. Reminiscent of “The Heretic Anthem”, this track was made to be performed live and has already become an absolute crowd favourite. As if the track wasn’t already one of the finest they’ve written, the chorus then throws in ferocious vocals and one of the best riffs on the entire record. When first introduced into their live set lists, it was intended to be rotated with other new tracks as they went from place to place, but the live reaction to it was so overwhelmingly positive that it instantly became a mainstay. With quality riffs, vicious vocals and furious drumming which absolutely bleed aggression, it’s easy to see why.