Slipknot – The End, So Far (Album Review)

Slipknot - The End, So Far album review

Slipknot – The End, So Far 
Released: September 30, 2022

Line Up

(#8) Corey Taylor // lead and backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson // guitars
(#4) Jim Root // guitars
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan // custom percussion, backing vocals
Michael Pfaff // percussion and backing vocals
(#0) Sid Wilson // turntables, keyboards
(#5) Craig “133” Jones // samples, media, keyboards
Alessandro “V-Man” Venturella // bass, piano
Jay Weinberg // drums, percussion

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As much as Slipknot have been a consistently evolving creature, there has always been a predictability to their albums. They are a band that have written some of the most sure-fire bangers in the last twenty-odd years, from ‘Wait and Bleed’ to ‘Unsainted’, which helped them rise from odd, violent novelty to one of the biggest acts in metal. They’ll have the heavy sweary songs with more melodic tracks between them, which from Vol 3 onwards included use of acoustic guitars, and then those slow tempo heavy goliaths like ‘Gently’. We Are Not Your Kind marked a departure for the band. There were bangers for sure, but it was threaded through a more melodic approach with Craig’s keyboards more prominent than guitars on several songs and the short segue tracks tying the whole thing together. Personally, I found it a rewarding but dense experience, in some ways, it was the exact kind of album I had always wanted from Slipknot in terms of a dramatic, theatrical sound. With news of a new album following quickly from the release of We Are Not Your Kind, the apocalyptically titled The End, So Far, might have continued that album’s journey into a proggier atmosphere. But hell no, not for the Nine. This one represents something of a throwback, a devolution perhaps, but a welcome one as Slipknot tear the world a new one… again. 

‘Adderall’ is an immediate change up for the band, at least in terms of sequencing. It’s almost 6 minutes and is a far cry from the noisy intro tracks of their debut and IOWA, but also more of a whole song than Vol 3.’s ‘Execute 3.0’. It’s slow, with a haunting choral section, repetitive piano and really dissonant guitars. It’s gorgeous but also not quite the launch pad one has come to expect from a Slipknot album. Way more expected is first single The Dying Song (Time to Sing)’, which is a straight-up classic Slipknot anthem. It’s followed immediately by the 2021 single The Chapeltown Rag, whose intro recalls ‘Eyeless’ with Sid Wilson’s scratching leading into a thumping riff/percussion combo. Corey Taylor targets the fake news media and online trolls, with his trademark venom, and a sick throaty delivery. His cleans on the chorus sound great and the bridge is actually a nice little rap, punctuated by screams. The final breakdown is enormous in a way only a nine-headed monster can manage. 

If you’ve already checked out Yen then you’re probably halfway to deciding what you think of The End, So Far. Like ‘Snuff’, it is a melodic, slow burn that takes off on the chorus. It’s Corey Taylor at his best, with a full range from country style to his massive clean/scream double-tracked hook. The instrumental sections have guitarists Jim Root/Mick Thompson getting their heavy groove on, with Sid adding scratches with Craig Jones’ SFX. If it wasn’t for Jay Weinberg kicking his double bass drums, it would almost lean into grunge territory. Speaking of Mr Weinberg, the dude gets his dues on this one. Check out his performance on ‘Hivemind’, in which he manages to smash everything connected to his kit in quick succession. The song starts with a carnival sample that speeds up to the point of squealing before the riff drops. It’s a flat-out ‘Knot attack from there with the familiar beer kegs getting smashed by Clown and Tortilla Man. Another cool hook too, one that is easy to sing along with after a couple of listens. 

There’s more brutality and gang vocals on ‘Warranty’, which is fun but probably the first song I was a bit meh about. It’s heavy for damn sure, really cool effects on the solo, but it’s the kind of song Slipknot could do in their sleep. There is quite a cool percussive breakdown, with a female choir, but it’s soon drowned out by more thumping. It’s good heavy shit and plenty of maggots will love it. ‘Medicine for the Dead’ has a prolonged intro that recalls ‘Vermillion’ before erupting into Corey’s full throat growl and some down-tuned heavy riffing. It’s the traditional mid-album slower song and there is plenty going on musically, with all nine members getting their stuff in at different layers. It sounds great through headphones. Bonus marks for the synth-vocoder outro. One of the few things I can criticise is that there isn’t quite enough of this weirdness overall. There are some cool samples and effects to intro and outro different songs but not quite the full experience of the last album. 

The breakthrough is the awesome ‘Acidic’. Check this out – Corey is doing a blues croon with V-Man’s bass turned up and a bunch of percussion. The verses are a bit Stone Temple Pilots-slash-Faith No More. The chorus? Loud, dissonant and completely chaotic. This is what I am here for. Root and Thompson get to do more than just riff hard and really capture the empty bar vibe. In an album with plenty of heavy stuff, that this track stands alone with a different vibe is a great sign that Slipknot still have some innovation up their 18 sleeves. It actually paves the way for ‘Heirloom’ to be that traditional melodic anthem, circa All Hope is Gone or The Grey Chapter. It’s another pretty standard composition for the band, but they have really nailed the sequencing here with tracks contrasting with the ones before and after so that they each have their space. ‘H377’ picks up the heaviness again with a blistering growl/rap and tough series of riffs that slam and groove in equal measure. It just flat-out rips and could well be one of those songs that becomes a live favourite. V-Man gets a fair showing on ‘De Sade’ too, another moody one that actually has a bit of that prog feel in the intro before the groove starts and it’s a bit doom metal with Corey crooning along. It’s an arena-ready tune that will come to live with a big lighting rig. It does go up a notch though with some brutal riffs before the guitar solos, with Sid scratching alongside Root and Thompson. It’s a pretty neat three-way that only Slipknot has the personnel to pull off. ‘Finale’ continues the album’s second-half excursion into bleak songs as a piano and strings ballad. It gathers steam as the other instruments join in by the second chorus. It successfully captures the dramatic vibe of their previous album with layers of vocals, percussion and other odd sounds right through to the finish of album number 7. 

We are at the stage with Slipknot where they are big enough to just tour old material and people will turn out in droves for the performance. That said, this album still feels like an event with the singles continuing the long tradition of Slipknot bangers. The rest of the album does have some great moments to justify its existence, especially songs like ‘Acidic’, even if a few other tracks could have been drawn from just about any other prior album. It took me a couple of playthroughs to really dig into it but I found it better the second and third times around. The band as currently constructed is very tight and the songs have room for everyone to show their considerable skills. Despite the curious title, I don’t think The End, So Far is a swan song of any kind, but there are enough interesting and inspiring moments for maggots to invest in until album number 8. This is a band that remains fully charged and committed to delivering and extending themselves and their audience. 

Slipknot - The End, So Far

Slipknot – The End, So Far tracklisting: 

1. Adderall
2.
The Dying Song (Time To Sing)
3. The Chapeltown Rag
4. Yen
5. Hive Mind
6. Warranty
7. Medicine For The Dead
8. Acidic
9. Heirloom
10. H377
11. De Sade
12. Finale

Rating: 8.5 / 10
The End, So Far is Sept 30 via Warner Music/RoadRunner Records. Listen here.
Review by KJ Draven (Twitter and Instagram)

Check out our interview with V-Man chatting all things The End, So Far, it’s conception at Clown‘s house mid-pandemic and how the band are staying true to their fans – both new and old – right here

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