Slipknot, minus two founding members, Paul Gray and Joey Jordison, was always going to cause controversy amongst fans. Yet, incredibly, the remaining members of Slipknot produced an album worthy of their reputation.
XIX is a sonic wonderland that is the perfect precursor to all other songs on the album. I don't know about you, but I love Taylor's lyrical delivery on this song. Although, while the abrupt ending doesn't appeal to me, I can't deny that it flows beautifully into Sarcastrophe.
Sarcastrophe has an early guitar riff that reminds me of Metallica's sound signature from their St. Anger album. That isn't a bad thing, just an interesting observation. Overall, Sarcastrophe is fast and hard. Classic Slipknot.
AOV is an incredibly well-balanced song with something for every Slipknot fan. Taylor delivers his vocals perfectly and the musical accompaniment makes this one of the best songs on the album.
The Devil In I is rhythmic heaven. I absolutely love it! Although, as good as Jay Weinberg is on drums, there is something missing. In a perfect world, I’d love to hear Joey Jordison lay down a drum track for this song. I'm not suggesting Jordison would have done a better job, but that his styling is different and may have worked well with this song. Regardless, Slipknot doesn't get much better than this.
Killpop has a killer rhythm throughout the chorus with an interesting, near mainstream rock, verse delivery. It’s a mismatched performance that ironically works perfectly. While it isn't the strongest song on the album, .5: The Gray Chapter wouldn't be the same without it.
Skeptic is largely a tribute to Paul Gray. It’s a solid Slipknot track with an addictive chorus, but it also sounds a little disjointed in places. It isn't one of my favourite songs but remains worthy of inclusion.
Lech is nothing special. A B-side at best.
Goodbye is another song discussing Paul Gray's death and the impact his passing had on the band. It’s an exceptional song with a gorgeous soundstage and vocal delivery. Its placement, mid-album, is interesting though. I would suggest it would have been better placed towards the beginning of the album or as the final track. Nevertheless, it blends seamlessly into Nomadic.
Nomadic is superb!
The One That Kills The Least has an addictive rhythm and those guitar licks are incredible, as is Taylor's vocal delivery and the overall performance.
Custer is classic Slipknot!
Be Prepared For Hell is pure filler. It really should have been left off the album.
The Negative One will keep long-time fans happy, but there is little evolution in this song.
If Rain Is What You Want is an intriguing song, but is it really a Slipknot song? I'm not sure. I’d say it sounds more like a repurposed Stone Sour song, but that’s just me. That isn’t to say it's bad, just that I don't feel this qualifies as a Slipknot song per se. It’s also a questionable way to end the vinyl and standard edition releases.
Override is a hard-hitting song that suits Slipknot significantly more than If Rain Is What You Want.
The Burden is a solid track to close the album with, although it should be noted that the additional three hidden tracks, available on the CD Special Edition release, are absent from all streaming/digital delivery services. That isn't a bad thing as it offers fans a reason to pick up the CD, unless, of course, you no longer have a CD player.
.5: The Gray Chapter (Special Edition) is largely perfect, but I would argue it’s too long. Chop up to 20 minutes off the album and you'd have an amazing album. Nevertheless, it was just good to see Slipknot continue with new material after losing two key members.
Sonically, this is one of the best sounding albums available for this style of music. It is recorded impeccably well and mixed and mastered beautifully. I dare say the vinyl release would amplify this and as such, I'll have to order myself a copy. Until then, I can attest that the CD-quality FLAC edition, delivered via TIDAL Hi-Fi, is exceptional.