Slipknot – All Hope Is Gone
Release Date: August 31, 2008
Record Label: Roadrunner Records
Produced By: Dave Fortman
Sounds Like: A mix of all three of their prior albums.
First Single: Psychosocial
Recommended Downloads: All Hope Is Gone, Sulfur, This Cold Black
Total Runtime: 57:44
- Vocals: Corey Taylor
- Guitar: Mick Thompson
- Guitar:James Root
- Bass: Paul Gray
- Drums: Joey Jordinson
- Percussion: Shawn Crahan
- Percussion: Chris Fehn
- Turntables: Sid Wilson
- Keyboards: Craig Jones
You know, you really have to kind of admire Corey Taylor. The guy is in, despite all odds, two bands that are both heavy but successful, is just getting around to doing a solo album, was asked to work with Anthrax, and still manages to…well, live. Quips on the Slipknot vocalist’s life aside, Slipknot is a band that exploded out of nowhere (also known as Des Moines, Iowa) back near the turn of the millennium and never really looked back. Despite their dark, heavy sound they managed to become the first Roadrunner band to go platinum, and that trend has continued with all three of their previous albums. But as time went on, and the band gain fans and popularity, did they sacrifice their sound for the sake of larger sales?
Well that would really depend on who you were to ask and what your definition of sacrificing their sound is. While 2004’s The Subliminal Verses did show the band going in a slightly softer direction in some instances, including a couple of acoustic (gasp!!!) tracks, for the most part their overall but progressing sound was alive and well. Like watching a good series of movies, every album maintained their trademark feel and sound but made adjustments, improvements, and in some cases experimentations to make an overall better whole. So while, yes, Verses did have some lighter moments, it also showed the band venturing into previously uncharted territory with the use of thrash and death metal riffing, guitar solos, and a more straightforward approach to a lot of their writing.
So where does a band like Slipknot go next? They go to the album you are listening to right now (assuming, of course, that you are listening to All Hope Is Gone). Look at it like a delicious banana split. Bananas? Tasty. Chocolate syrup? Wonderful. Ice cream? Delectable. Nuts? Well, let’s not go there. But while all of the parts are excellent on their own, together they make one sweet, creamy delight. Man, someone’s going to make that into a gay joke. Anyhow, think of Slipknot as the bananas, Iowa as the syrup, Vol. III: The Subliminal Verses as the ice cream, and the nine band members as the…ahem…nuts.
One thing especially apparent is the fact that the music is much more guitar driven, with both Thompson and Root shining through and carrying things along on the strength of their thrashy, chugging riffs and scorching leads. But what sets this album up on the top of the proverbial mountain is the perfect combination of elements from Slipknot’s prior albums, with the added ingredients that make those sounds stronger than ever before. Sure, Verses had death riffing and solos, but did any instance on that album match up to the likes of “Vendetta” and “All Hope Is Gone” respectively? What about the dark, moody, bipolar nature of the self-titled album; was there anything there quite so downtrodden and slow as “Butcher’s Hook” or “Gehenna?” I imagine the point I’m attempting to make is fairly clear here, but going back to the banana split reference, were you to take the parts of the whole, all awesome in their own right, and add in, say, peanut butter when mixing them into the dessert we all know and love, wouldn’t it just be that much better? Hmm, peanut butter in a banana split. I’m getting hungry.
Moving on from the excessive amounts of food references, I’ll say flat out that while four years apart allowed Slipknot to make a ferocious and energized album, it also seems to have brought out a few spots of rust that even a nice, shiny coat of slick production from Dave Fortman (the guy who produces Evanescence…seriously?) and masterful mixing from the always reliable Colin Richardson can’t cover. And while like a good tube of Bond-O, the production does cover many of these spots up, ironically that also turns out to be the problem at times. While this album isn’t as squeaky clean as Verses was, it does lack that gritty, dirty quality that many of the songs feel like they could benefit from. One very notable example of this is “Sulfur.” While I say this with the aside that it is one of my personal favorite songs from the album, much like “Duality” from the last record, the relentless riffing in the verse and the soaring chorus would come off much better were that extra layer of sheen absent from the song, as it makes the track sound a little too…perfect. And obviously not in a good way.
There is also “Snuff.” I won’t say much about this, other than that the band sounds as if they tried way too hard to recreate “Vermillion.” I really feel that they can do a great darker song like that if they let it flow, but while the track is by no means terrible, it just sounds extremely forced, like they sat in a room one day with that dude from Evanescence and said “okay guys, let’s write Vermillion Part 2…uh, I mean three. I think. *scratches head* What part are we on? This is almost as bad as Metallica trying to force another mellow track called ‘Unforgiven.’”
That really makes me wonder actually.
To be somewhat serious here for a moment, Slipknot have achieved the near impossible feat of combining all three of their very different albums and improving on that to release their best album to date. The riffs are stronger, the heavy parts are heavier, the “clean” parts are better, and even the album’s first single “Psychosocial” is what “Duality” was intended to be. “Dead Memories,” the most mellow track on the album (aside from “Snuff”), manages to even feel right at home while simultaneously breaking the pace a bit and keeping the tone going with its dark lyrics and so-smooth-it-hurts chorus which showcases Taylor’s clean but angry voice crooning “dead memories in my heart…” repeatedly.
It’s also nice to see DJ Sid Wilson and keyboardist Craig Jones making pretty regular appearances after their practical absences on the last album. Honestly, did they even show up during those recording sessions? That is an honest question. Admittedly it has been a while since I’ve heard Verses, but I honestly can’t remember a single instance of either appearing barring “Vermillion.”
If All Hope Is Gone is Slipknot’s banana split with peanut butter, then what will the next album be? Maybe they’ll add whipped cream or something. Only time will tell. As for now though, this is a tantalizing slab of metal that will satisfy for quite a while. While fans may have a hard time making this one last the seemingly inevitable four year period before (the potential) album number five hits the world upside the head with a large, plastic baseball bat, for the next few years this is sure to get plenty of spins as it will likely hold up better than any other Slipknot album. Now if you’ve already forgotten about Hope in the massive delay between its release and this review, pop it back in and then go grab yourself a double fudge brownie delight just in spite of me and all the damn talk of banana splits. Just make sure not to forget the peanut butter.
02. Gematria (The Killing Name)
05. Dead Memories
07. Butcher’s Hook
09. This Cold Black
10. Wherein Lies Continue
12. All Hope Is Gone
Label: Roadrunner Records
Review by Brandon Ratliff