Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter review



Reviewer:
3.0

367 users:
7.45
Band: Slipknot
Album: .5: The Gray Chapter
Release date: October 2014


01. XIX
02. Sarcastrophe
03. AOV
04. The Devil In I
05. Killpop
06. Skeptic
07. Lech
08. Goodbye
09. Nomadic
10. The One That Kills The Least
11. Custer
12. Be Prepared For Hell
13. The Negative One
14. If Rain Is What You Want
15. Override [bonus]
16. The Burden [bonus]


Let me preface this saying that I am a fan. Slipknot was the first metal album I listened to all the way through. I owe much of my progression into metal music to them, and I still listen to Slipknot and Iowa regularly.

The album opens with an interesting synth intro. It is very atmospheric. I'm immediately worried as I begin thinking about The Subliminal Verses instead of the throwbacks I had been told that this hearkened to. Corey comes in alone and raw. I have mixed feelings at first about his approach, but it grows on me and sucks me in. Unfortunately this is about as personal as Corey will sound for the remainder of the album. I once again realize that never again will we have another "742617000027" or "(515)".

The first proper track starts off sounding the closest to "People=Shit" they have since…well "People=Shit". Corey's vocal rhythms have sped up again to his early rapid-fire, hip-hop meets hell approach. However, the delivery feels a bit too rehearsed in comparison. This is very much a studio affair created piece by piece rather than live as a band. The production is a little too polished and takes away from the gritty sonic assault of the first two proper LP's. Despite Joey's absence, the drumming is still in tact. Expect lots of fast fills and changes of pace. My only complaint here is that the drums are somewhat buried in the mix. When you have all that percussion at your disposable, you should keep it up front.

Back on the vocal front, yes, Corey still sings here. I can't knock the guy as I think he has a very pleasant voice. It is very sad and world-weary. Similarities to Greg Graffin (Bad Religion) cannot be ignored. The difference is that Greg is a much more proficient and acerbic lyricist. Without the ideas to back up the melody, a lot of these passages ring hollow to me. Between the vocals and guitar, there are some hooks to be found. Unfortunately, I find them again marred by the production. The guitar distortion feels as if it is trapped in a tight space with nowhere to go. The vocals are fed through so many filters and effects that emotion is left on the cutting room floor. I'd like to hear some live versions to see what might have been.

I can't help but chuckle a little that the song, "Killpop," is the poppiest-sounding track on the album. The opening melody was built for radio. Despite the apparent change in volume and intensity after this intro, it is all smoke and mirrors. It almost tricks your brain into thinking the track is more aggressive than it is. Sure, there are some nice angry pre-choruses, but then we are right back at "she loves me." This track represents everything I hate about what Slipknot has become and metal-friendly radio in general.

Things don't improve much from there. Recycled and second-string guitar chugs plod along with the same castrated sound. Corey starts to sound less and less interested in his screaming. Bass-lines putter around with the guitar, sometimes just holding the same note for line after line. Hey, it's track 6 and I am just now hearing a keg-hit contribution from Shawn for the first time? I really start to lose interest altogether at this point. But out of professionalism, I press on and turn up my volume in hopes that this will help me identify more positives.

It doesn't. I'd say more, but it would be redundant. I'm left not feeling surprised at all, yet just as sad as when I listened to the last two albums. Maybe I'm just getting old and nostalgic. Listening to the first two albums still gets my blood pumping, veins popping, and heart racing. Despite having grown from there onto much more extreme metal acts, both old and new, I still feel those first two albums can hold their own in the fray. This…is not that. There are some glimmers here and there, like the vocals on "Custer" and the opening of "The Negative One", but it is too little too late. There are much worse metal albums out there, but I still can't recommend this. With giants such as Behemoth, Vader, and Septicflesh releasing monumental albums this year; The Gray Chapter is a mere cockroach in their wake. I'm sure record sales may say otherwise, but the different levels of exposure make that a grossly unfair basis of comparison. As always, give it a listen for yourself to make up your own mind.


Rating breakdown
Performance: 6
Songwriting: 4
Originality: 3
Production: 4

Written by flightoficarus | 16.11.2014


 


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.

Staff review by
ScreamingSteelUS
Rating:
8.2
Last time Slipknot released a studio album, they still served as one of my primary conduits to the metal scene. As I am no longer 14, Slipknot's angst-and-unorthodox-percussion-heavy brand of nu/alt metal lacks the same gravitas it once had, but I still enjoy Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses and Slipknot from time to time. You might call me a bit of a lapsed fan, but I'm enough of one to give .5: The Gray Chapter a fighting chance.

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published 22.10.2014 | Comments (12)


Comments

Comments: 25   Visited by: 243 users
16.11.2014 - 03:04
ScreamingSteelUS
Editor-in-Chief
The Greg Graffin comparison never would have occurred to me, but now that you mention it I can definitely see it. I disagree with your rating, obviously, but your review is fair and understandable.
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Umaku naritai umaku naritai umaku naritai umaku naritai

I'm the Agent of Steel.
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16.11.2014 - 05:58
flightoficarus
Stamp Tramp
Written by ScreamingSteelUS on 16.11.2014 at 03:04

The Greg Graffin comparison never would have occurred to me, but now that you mention it I can definitely see it. I disagree with your rating, obviously, but your review is fair and understandable.


Thanks. I really wanted to like it. Plenty will I am sure. The Greg Gaffin thing just popped up one day. I was listening to one of the newer Bad Religion albums after having recently heard Stone Sour on the radio and I was just like, whoa, they have almost the same voice.
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16.11.2014 - 07:11
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
You must be one of those maggot fan who is infuriated over this new record not sound anything like "Iowa"or "Slipknot". I've seen many fuming hot-rod listeners like you(on forums, see YouTube comment section, twitter and of course reddit) who is disappointed how this new record develops and failed. Which in fact isn't.

As Screaming said, don't have any issue with cons on this review but rating did create controversy here.
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16.11.2014 - 09:45
Rupert
Written by Cynic Metalhead on 16.11.2014 at 07:11

You must be one of those maggot fan who is infuriated over this new record not sound anything like "Iowa"or "Slipknot". I've seen many fuming hot-rod listeners like you(on forums, see YouTube comment section, twitter and of course reddit) who is disappointed how this new record develops and failed. Which in fact isn't.

That's a bit harsh, are people not allowed to dislike this album and like their older stuff? I personally like all their albums but he obviously doesn't, big whoop.

On another note - I feel like the fact that "Killpop" is the poppiest-sounding track is meant to be ironic.
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16.11.2014 - 12:33
Ilham
Giant robot
It's funny that you recommend Behemoth and Vader, they both released their worst albums to date this year, and in my opinion, The Gray Chapter is far more interesting than hearing any of those two bands parody themselves the way they do now.
Moreover, you're complaining about Slikpnot becoming radio-friendly. It's always been radio-friendly. I find it weird that you haven't mentioned that this album is actually a step up from the previous release, and holds its own dynamic and atmosphere. Sure it's not the self-titled or Iowa, but bands move on. Would you have preferred Slipknot to become Cannibal Corpse #2 and release the same album every other year?
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16.11.2014 - 15:27
ozzy87
I would really like metalstorm.ee to introduce ratings of the reviews, because this one would get 10% or 1/10 in terms of proffesionalism and objectivism, so most people would not waste their time reading it.

This is a review made by someone who compares Slipknot to Behemoth, Vader, etc. ...i mean, when was the time, where slipknot was being inspired by aforementioned? are these in the same "metal category"? they are, million miles away...

Also critic compares "5" to "1" & "2" wishing the band to sound like on their first two albums. This is so biased...on the other hand there is no consequence, meaning: If the critic look at the album only in terms of similarity to previous albums, he should give this one 9 out of 10 in terms of originality, because it's complete different from first two albums, isn't it?
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16.11.2014 - 16:01
Ilham
Giant robot
Written by ozzy87 on 16.11.2014 at 15:27

I would really like metalstorm.ee to introduce ratings of the reviews, because this one would get 10% or 1/10 in terms of proffesionalism and objectivism, so most people would not waste their time reading it.

This is a review made by someone who compares Slipknot to Behemoth, Vader, etc. ...i mean, when was the time, where slipknot was being inspired by aforementioned? are these in the same "metal category"? they are, million miles away...

Also critic compares "5" to "1" & "2" wishing the band to sound like on their first two albums. This is so biased...on the other hand there is no consequence, meaning: If the critic look at the album only in terms of similarity to previous albums, he should give this one 9 out of 10 in terms of originality, because it's complete different from first two albums, isn't it?

A review always boils down to a personal, subjective opinion. You just have to bring arguments to the table.

I don't think he wants to compare Slipknot to Behemoth or Vader, he's just suggesting there are more interesting things out there to listen to, and he chose those as examples. Which I don't agree with.

You do bring a really good point. Slipknot have their own distinctive sound, I don't know of any other band that sounds exactly them, and whether this album is exactly like the others or not, it's still rather original compared to the rest of the musical metal landscape. I wouldn't have given less than 5 or 6 for originality.
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16.11.2014 - 16:24
!J.O.O.E.!
Account deleted
Written by Ilham on 16.11.2014 at 12:33

It's funny that you recommend Behemoth and Vader, they both released their worst albums to date this year, and in my opinion, The Gray Chapter is far more interesting than hearing any of those two bands parody themselves the way they do now.
Moreover, you're complaining about Slikpnot becoming radio-friendly. It's always been radio-friendly. I find it weird that you haven't mentioned that this album is actually a step up from the previous release, and holds its own dynamic and atmosphere. Sure it's not the self-titled or Iowa, but bands move on. Would you have preferred Slipknot to become Cannibal Corpse #2 and release the same album every other year?

Agreed with all this, and I'd add Septicflesh to that as well. They've lost most of what ever made them palatable I find. Vader and many others will be bands virtually impregnable from criticism despite making the same records over and over again, whereas Slipknot, a band far more original than Vader is, is destined to have the weight of critique's heavy handedness levied against it, even though to me it succeeds more at radio friendly metal than said other bands did in their own fields in recent times. Ultimately though I'm not sure why said bands were even mentioned in a review about Slipknot seeing as they sound nothing alike. It would have been far better to propose alternatives to Slipknot that sounded vaguely similar, but then I find people can't often do that (which says something about Slipknot which many aren't willing to even see).

Personally I found this album too long, and marred by 2 or 3 cringey tracks, and having iffy drum sound (for me way too loud and bright, not buried in the mix), but largely it was enjoyable and decently written, and ultimately quite fun.
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16.11.2014 - 16:32
Ilham
Giant robot
Written by Guest on 16.11.2014 at 16:24

Agreed with all this, and I'd add Septicflesh to that as well. They've lost most of what ever made them palatable I find. Vader and many others will be bands virtually impregnable from criticism despite making the same records over and over again, whereas Slipknot, a band far more original than Vader is, is destined to have the weight of critique's heavy handedness levied against it, even though to me it succeeds more at radio friendly metal than said other bands did in their own fields.

Personally I found this album too long, and marred by 2 or 3 cringey tracks, and having iffy drum sound, but largely it was enjoyable and decently written, and ultimately quite fun.

Exactly. And, I've always hated Septic Flush, that's why I didn't talk about them .

Same here, I really had trouble getting to the end. My personal rating was 6/10, and I doubt I'd have rated it much higher if I reviewed it. But in no way does it deserve a 3, based on the justifications I read in this review.
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16.11.2014 - 16:43
!J.O.O.E.!
Account deleted
Septic Flesh were actually not bad once =P

I have another potential complaint with this review:

Quote:
Hey, it's track 6 and I am just now hearing a keg-hit contribution from Shawn for the first time? I really start to lose interest altogether at this point. But out of professionalism, I press on and turn up my volume in hopes that this will help me identify more positives.


Forgive me if I'm wrong but it sounds to me like you only listened to this once? (not to mention than you had already come to a conclusion on track 6 but that's probably just an interpretation on my part). While I have no issue whatsoever with someone listening to album once and then giving a personal rating I wouldn't call listening to an album once and then writing a review based on it professional in the slightest, quite the opposite in fact. Perhaps it was just the wording but it sounds like you doing this album and review a personal courtesy just finishing it the once. It doesn't sound like you would have given it another spin or 2 based on that.
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16.11.2014 - 18:32
Alex F
Slick Dick Rick
I would rate the album a point or two higher, but I didn't really enjoy it either. As it seems everyone is commenting on the quality of your actual review, I guess I'll throw in my advice/opinion as well. I wouldn't criticize you on obviously wanting a throwback to their earlier albums, as a review should be subjective (and if that's what you wanted, that's just what you wanted). However, I will say that the review feels kind of "train of thought-y", and doesn't really have enough variance in sentence structure or diction to make it very interesting. Not trying to dog you, just giving some (hopefully) helpful advice/insight seeing as this only your second review on MS.
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get that bag
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16.11.2014 - 19:19
flightoficarus
Stamp Tramp
Everyone is entitled to an opinion. Thank you for the various constructive feedback from a few of you. One clarification, I am not comparing Slipknot to those other bands beyond considering what I feel to be the best music I have heard this year. I particularly like The Satanist exactly because to me it does NOT sound like the other Behemoth albums and transcends. This is again, just my opinion. I don't dislike this album because it is not the first two. I dislike it because it lacks the rawness and genuineness I found in those albums. That and, as a musician, the songwriting across the board is pretty terrible. My review is heavy on comparisons to the older albums mostly due to so many other reviews stating that this sounds like them in some way. If you think this is album of the year, fine. I stand by my 3 and respect your disagreement.
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Daily underground metal recommendations at Metal Trenches.
Listen to the Trench Talk podcast.
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16.11.2014 - 20:52
Cynic Metalhead
Atrocious Virgin
Pretty much what my answer lies in last two line of Ilham post to Rupert.

Band move on and if they move on in pretty good direction then it is said they going in good direction. After giving a thorough listen to .5 The Gray Chapter, I believe this album has done fairly well as compared to the last album. New lineup, new music, new direction...it has all fit the bill perfectly.

Edit - referenced to first post of Ilham. By the time i finished with my post, 7 post was in.
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18.11.2014 - 00:51
Jaeryd
Nihil's Maw
Written by ozzy87 on 16.11.2014 at 15:27

I would really like metalstorm.ee to introduce ratings of the reviews

I don't really care about the rest of your comment that much, mostly because I'm disinterested in this album in general, but this is actually an okay idea. Much in the way that lists get thumbs up and thumbs down, we should see a system like that for reviews, to see how many people like the review. It probably would be reduced to a system of "hey I like this album and you gave it a bad review, fuck you!" but it would still be interesting.
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18.11.2014 - 13:49
Slayer666
Written by Jaeryd on 18.11.2014 at 00:51

I don't really care about the rest of your comment that much, mostly because I'm disinterested in this album in general, but this is actually an okay idea.


It's a horrible idea. With a rating of a review, you're basically reviewing a review with a single digit. Won't be long before someone suggests we add ratings to the ratings of the review because that guy really liked the review and a different guy gave it a 3. It's going to turn into a complete clusterfuck really quickly and it's just going to be a completely useless site feature. Album votes are unreliable and abused already, adding another thing you can rate is just asking for another reason for people to whine. "Bwwah, he gave my favorite review a 2, mods please stop this abuser"; "how is this review that rates the new Avenged Slipknotfold with a 9 ratted better than that review that rates the new Iron Opeth with a 6??" etc.
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18.11.2014 - 13:53
!J.O.O.E.!
Account deleted
It's a horrible idea [2]

Reviews should be getting away from numbers altogether, not giving people the opportunity to throw more arbitrary numbers at people because they didn't like their original arbitrary number for an album. Even if it wasn't using numbers any kind of judgement system levied against people's opinions is really stupid.
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18.11.2014 - 13:58
Ilham
Giant robot
Not even that, you're rating AN OPINION if you rate a review. It'll boil down to "I don't like this guy, give the fucker 1 for his shit review".
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18.11.2014 - 23:46
Jaeryd
Nihil's Maw
Written by Guest on 18.11.2014 at 13:53

Reviews should be getting away from numbers altogether, not giving people the opportunity to throw more arbitrary numbers at people because they didn't like their original arbitrary number for an album. Even if it wasn't using numbers any kind of judgement system levied against people's opinions is really stupid.

Technically the comments section can be used as a kind of judgement system levied against people's opinions, anyway. So you could also say that the comments section is stupid.

But yeah, you're probably right, it is a bad idea. It just sounded interesting. They do that kind of thing on Amazon, anyway, with a "I found this review helpful" button, but it probably wouldn't transfer well to a review site. Just seemed okay at first glance.
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18.11.2014 - 23:52
!J.O.O.E.!
Account deleted
Written by Jaeryd on 18.11.2014 at 23:46

Technically the comments section can be used as a kind of judgement system levied against people's opinions, anyway. So you could also say that the comments section is stupid.

But yeah, you're probably right, it is a bad idea. It just sounded interesting. They do that kind of thing on Amazon, anyway, with a "I found this review helpful" button, but it probably wouldn't transfer well to a review site. Just seemed okay at first glance.

I don't think that's an apt analogy. You have to take a comment on an individual basis and you can view the validity (or not) of that comment and hold the person who writes it up to it. Implementing a score system makes things faceless and gives people an opportunity to abuse it or enact dislike without explaining themselves. A bit like voting for albums on here, which is rife with misuse. Scores for albums is one thing, but aggregate scores for reviews seems too far to me.

Amazon is a bit different as people review products which are not all based on personal opinion. A review on Amazon can be objectively useful if it gives info on whether or not something will even work, whereas a music review is mostly a personal opinion on a piece of art, essentially.
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19.11.2014 - 00:07
Jaeryd
Nihil's Maw
Written by Guest on 18.11.2014 at 23:52

Amazon is a bit different as people review products which are not all based on personal opinion. A review on Amazon can be objectively useful if it gives info on whether or not something will even work, whereas a music review is mostly a personal opinion on a piece of art, essentially.

Yep, that's why I was saying you were right, it wouldn't transfer well to a review website.

Also, I was just kidding about the comments section being the same thing. It's just that you said "Even if it wasn't using numbers any kind of judgement system levied against people's opinions is really stupid" which is very broad and could technically include the comments section.
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19.11.2014 - 00:11
!J.O.O.E.!
Account deleted
Written by Jaeryd on 19.11.2014 at 00:07

Yep, that's why I was saying you were right, it wouldn't transfer well to a review website.

Also, I was just kidding about the comments section being the same thing. It's just that you said "Even if it wasn't using numbers any kind of judgement system levied against people's opinions is really stupid" which is very broad and could technically include the comments section.

It could, but I guess I don't think of comments like that as it can encompass any kind of discussion. It's not designed in mind specifically and solely to judge people in a black and white way.
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28.11.2014 - 00:38
SlaytanicBacon
Contrary to most of the comments here, I agree with this review. And before anyone says that I am one of those people who hate anything past Iowa, I did enjoy Vol.3 and & All Hope Is Gone.
This one feels dead, mechanic and is lacking memorable moments, I can't remember one thing about it once done listening to it...
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21.12.2014 - 01:03
Olives
Can't say I agree with your production and originality rating, Slipknot have their own unique sound, and they in fact evolved in this album.
This is far from being their best album imo, but also far from getting a '3' rating.
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28.04.2015 - 23:19
Sunny Pagliaccio
Staff's PITA
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I wish, I wish I was a fish. With wings. And long mane. And maybe a halo. Possibly shape-shifting.
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13.06.2015 - 23:31
Broken_Failure
I actually really liked this album. Definitely a step up from the forgettable "All hope is gone". Also in killpop, he sings "until she loves me" and says things like "maybe i should let her go". He is basically keeping a woman hostage until she agree's to love him. I enjoyed this album, but my favorite is still Vol. 3. "All hope is gone" is really their only album i never listen too.
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