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Slipknot are older, wiser, and more concise on The End, So Far

"The End, So Far"

Release date: 30 September 2022
Slipknot - The End, So Far cover
30 September 2022, 00:00 Written by Dave Beech

I must’ve been 10 or 11 years old the first time my mum heard me listening to Slipknot.

It was something of a departure from the likes of Linkin Park and The Bloodhound Gang that had been gracing my CD player for the previous year. Somewhat taken aback by the angst, the aggression, and not least, the language, she left me with the question “And what are all these new bands going to be doing in 20 years’ time?”.

Well, far be it from me to take pleasure in proving a parent wrong, but 20 years down the line, Slipknot seem to be doing pretty bloody well. A band who needs no introduction, and arguably need little in the way of music press either, the Iowans have been tearing up stages across the world for almost a quarter of a century, earning multiple gold and platinum album awards and a Grammy in the process.

A lot has happened in that time, however. Members have come and gone, and the band understandably isn’t the same as it once was, and with now with seven albums under their belt just how much fire have Slipknot got left in them?

If The End, So Far is anything to go by, the answer is plenty. Though many fans were worried when the record’s title was announced, hoping it wasn’t a prophetic title alluding to the band’s break-up. What it does signify however, is the end of a long and fruitful relationship with Roadrunner, the label that helped introduce them to masses, and for which they in turn did the same for the label.

As such, it’s a record that feels like a return to the band’s roots, especially after 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind; Slipknot distilled down to their purest essence. Though opening number "Adderall" might have you believe different.

Built as much around a clean piano as its fizzing electronics, it takes a full minute before Corey Taylor’s vocals make an appearance. Clean and accompanied by the surprise inclusion of a choir, it’s more akin to The Cure than Slipknot, and listeners would be forgiven for assuming this was a complete departure for the band.

Indeed, it’s a bold move, opening with an almost six-minute slow-burner. Yet it serves a purpose. One that’s made abundantly clear once listeners have been lulled into a false sense of security; something that’s instantly obliterated with seconds of "The Dying Song (Time to Sing)" blistering opening. A recent single and instant proof that The End, So Far is a return to the weight and aggression of their earliest records, everything from the blast beats to Taylor’s caustic vocal delivery is trademark Slipknot and it’s nothing short of glorious.

Not only this, but "The Dying Song (Time to Sing)" also earmarks the point in which the record grabs its listeners by the balls and drags them kicking and screaming almost to the end of its hour long run time.

Another previous single "The Chapeltown Rag" keeps the proceedings flowing. A combination of classic Iowa-era Slipknot, complete with DJ scratches, and haunting black metal the track takes one of the Yorkshire Ripper’s murders, using it as an allegory to explore the relationship between social and traditional media. How obvious that is to the casual listener remains to be seen, but the fact remains that "The Chapeltown Rag" is yet another example of Slipknot being at the top of their game, and The End, So Far being one of their strongest releases in years.

‘Yen’ takes the foot off the gas just enough to offer the occasional glimmer of respite, but its claustrophobic, almost militant drumbeat does enough to retain the record’s ferocious pace. Elsewhere "Hivemind" and "Warranty" are pure Slipknot brutality; their respective drums/percussion notable highlights. In fact, the drums and percussion across the entirety of The End, So Far are nothing short of incredible; the duo of Jay Weinberg and Michael Pfaff proving a powerhouse pairing that harks back to Slipknot at their most furious.

Coming a little after the halfway point "Acidic" provides the record’s first true moment of respite, something needed after the aural assault provided by the previous six tracks. In doing so however, it stymies the record’s pace somewhat; an almost Deftones like dirge amongst cathartic fury.

Following track "Heirloom" picks things up where they left off to some extent, its industrial drums powering the track ever onwards towards its conclusion and the aggressive opening of "H377’" a track that harbours all the anger and angst of what’s come before it, yet still signals the start of the record winding itself down. Indeed, "De Sade" shares more in common with Taylor’s other band Stone Sour thanks to its clean vocals and heavy emphasis on the guitars, at least until the breakdown hits and we’re dragged right back to blast beat territory. Closing things out, the aptly titled "Finale" is a slow, mournful offering that succeeds in showcasing yet another of Slipknot’s facets, yet brings little to the table when compared to what it proceeds.

By this point though, it matters not. With The End, So Far, Slipknot haven’t reinvented themselves, but returned to their roots with an older, wiser and more concise outlook, resulting in a record that chews its listeners up almost instantly, and spits them out an hour later feeling beaten, battered and ultimately, cleansed.

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