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Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (Album Review)

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Slipknot – We Are Not Your Kind (Album Review)

When I saw Slipknot perform Unsainted, on Jimmy Kimmel Live, I have to admit that I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t connect with the song as I hoped I would and Taylor’s new mask made me question the direction Slipknot was taking. Thankfully, I don’t have to look at #8 when listening to We Are Not Your Kind and therefore Unsainted and the entire album is simply stunning.

Yes, that mask. It’s the worst in Slipknot history, making me think of Meat Loaf and what he’d look like if his face melted from too much cosmetic surgery. It shouldn’t taint the music, but unfortunately, it does when you see them perform live. It will be interesting to see if Taylor keeps dawning the same mask on tour, or if he makes minor adjustments to it as I don’t think it will appeal to many fans; what do you think about the mask, dear reader? 

After two decades since their eponymous debut, Slipknot has largely become part of the social consciousness and it is difficult for me to recall a time when the band weren’t part of the music scene. Perhaps I’m just getting old, but it is amazing to think We Are Not Your Kind is only their sixth studio release as it feels as though they’ve been around forever. Nevertheless, I’m thoroughly enjoying this release and can say without a doubt that it is amongst their very best work and is one of the greatest albums of 2019. 

Insert Coin is a killer tune to introduce the album and flows magically into Unsainted. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t have asked for a better, slow-burn, introduction. I love it!

Unsainted is EPIC! The choral introduction merged with the musicality and Taylor’s vocal is something very special indeed as it builds up to the tempo we’re used to hearing from Slipknot, then downshifts as the chorus kicks in. Brilliant! 

I hope you’ve already pumped that volume to 11, for this is not one album you want to play at low levels. The Apple Music stream sounds excellent, but I dare say the vinyl release would trump it. That is certainly the version I hope to pick up, sooner rather than later. 

Birth Of The Cruel has a seriously good rhythm and Taylor’s firing lyrical delivery is right on par with what we’ve come to expect from Slipknot over the years. Taylor is a vocal maestro and while I could listen to Slipknot’s musicality for countless hours, it is Taylor that makes it worthwhile for me and it shows in Birth Of The Cruel. This will be one killer song for them to perform live. 

Dead Because Of Death is an interesting interlude that refreshes the pallet in preparation for Nero Forte. I thoroughly enjoy it, but I can’t help but wonder what an expansion of this song would have sounded like. Nevertheless, I love it!

Nero Forte has a killer guitar riff and rhythm that is Slipknot 101 with a vocal growl that only Taylor can deliver with absolute precision. Nero Forte is going to be mosh pit gold. 

Critical Darling, as with many of the songs on We Are Not Your Kind, has an incredible introduction that draws you in from the very first note. Critical Darling is a great tune, but the chorus is a little weak, from a musical perspective, in my opinion. In many ways, when I listen to Critical Darling, it sounds as though it would have fit perfectly on All Hope Is Gone. That isn’t a criticism for I adore their 2008 release, but just a noticeable correlation. The final minute is also intriguing as it sounds like it’s the start of a new song, or another interlude, but it isn’t. I’d love to know what the thought process was with regards to the outro on Critical Darling. That said, it does flow beautifully into A Liar’s Funeral.

A Liar’s Funeral is incredible! The slow and bright tempo, mixed with the demonic, is a perfect mix and Taylor absolutely nails the vocal in both styles. Without a doubt, A Liar’s Funeral is one of the best songs on the album and one of the best in Slipknot’s extensive catalogue. While I’m not sure if A Liar’s Funeral has the potential to be a fan favourite, when played live, I adore the studio recording. 

Red Flag is old school Slipknot! What’s not to like?

What’s Next has a terrible xylophone-styled interlude that admittedly introduces Spiders well, but is largely superfluous to the album, other than being an indicator of shifting gears. 

Spiders is a great song with a great rhythm but I’m not convinced by the Horror-movie styled backing. It works, but I can’t help but think that after repeat listens that I may grow tired of it. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Nevertheless, Spiders is thoroughly enjoyable but a remix wouldn’t go astray. 

Orphan is a great song, but it takes a little too long to get into the core of the song in my opinion. I also wish the chorus was more pronounced as it is incredible. I could, honestly, listen to the chorus of Orphan on repeat indefinitely. 

My Pain is, interesting! Even after multiple listens, I’m not sure it fits the album too well. That said, as a song on its own, the layers of musicality are intense and the soundstage will compel and envelop you. My Pain is a song that you’re going to have to listen to multiple times to really connect with it. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it allows for greater appreciation of the song and album, but I’d love to know what the thought process was in the studio when it came to not only recording My Pain but including it on We Are Not Your Kind.

Not Long For This World is a stellar track. The slow-burn intro once again compels me and the rhythmic undertone ticks all the boxes. However, as much as I enjoy it, it needs a little less treble and a little more bass. It doesn’t sound flat and from the sounds of it, the style is intentional, but I really do like Slipknot’s music when the rhythm reaches into your soul and takes you on a visceral journey where you feel the music rather than hear it. Not Long For This World just misses the mark when it comes to the complete sensory experience that I associate with Slipknot; yet the outro gets the low end pumping as it merges into Solway Firth. 

Solway Firth is a killer closing track that will compel you to listen to the album again and stay within Slipknot’s catalogue. 

Overall, We Are Not Your Kind is an incredible release. As an album, it is a cohesive experience that you would be advised to sit and listen to from start to finish. I’d also say that We Are Not Your Kind is one of Slipknot’s most accessible albums as it will appeal to hardcore fans and newcomers alike. Slipknot, like a good bottle of wine, gets better and better; the future looks good for us maggots!

We Are Not Your Kind is available on Vinyl, CD, and the iTunes Store.  

Click here to read other Slipknot reviews by Subjective Sounds.

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Five Finger Death Punch – And Justice For None (Deluxe Edition Album Review)

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Five Finger Death Punch – And Justice For None (Deluxe Edition Album Review)

There are times when I scratch my head and wonder why it took me so long to check out an artist. Yes, my musical interests are broad and that could be presented as a justification, but I’ve known about Five Finger Death Punch for a number of years and despite being an active fan of their associated genres and counterparts, I've never taken that next step, until now.

And Justice For None is more than just an interesting wordplay on Metallica's ...And Justice For All. From this perspective it reminds me of the Murderdolls calling their last album Women And Children Last; a play on Van Halen's Women And Children First. Both are classics, as is Metallica's ...And Justice For All, but how does Five Finger Death Punch’s And Justice For None stack up? Well, for starters, Five Finger Death Punch didn't turn down the bass!

On a serious note, And Justice For None is one of the greatest metal-infused albums I have ever listened to. There isn't a bad song to be heard and the musicality of the band is off-the-charts.

While you can't judge an album by its cover, I absolutely love the artwork on the Deluxe Edition that is the basis for this review. It's demonic and arguably a cliche, but is perfectly suited to the band and their style of music. The Standard Edition is equally compelling, but I decided to listen to and review the Deluxe Edition as that version is specifically available on vinyl and the album is so good that I'll have to pick up a copy. It’s also important to note there is a slightly different track listing between the editions; most notably Trouble, the lead song on the Deluxe Edition is omitted completely from the Standard Edition. I find this fascinating as Deluxe Editions traditionally dump additional songs at the backend of the album. As exceptional as Fake is, Trouble is a perfectly valid song and sets the tone for the entire album. The rhythm is amazing, as is the quality of the recording, mixing, and mastering. You can't always say that about metal-focused bands as they are either bass heavy and subsequently muffled, or they sound too thin throughout the entire soundstage. Five Finger Death Punch, however, punches you in the face with their sound, preserving the bass while ensuring there's a broad stereo image which is crystal clear.

Fake is bloody brilliant! It’s hard hitting and Corey Taylor inspired. In fact, I'd love to hear Taylor cover it, or perform it live with Five Finger Death Punch. That said, the song is so perfect with Moody's vocal presentation that Taylor could ruin it. Sorry, Corey, I love ya man, but Moody kicks ass on this song. Actually, when I think about it, Rob Zombie would also be perfectly suited to cover this masterpiece.

Top Of The World is rhythmic heaven and yes, I still hear a little Corey Taylor influence on this song, not that that’s a bad thing!

Sham Pain is brilliant. With a little hip-hop, pop-rock ballad tones, and metal-infused elements, this song ticks all the boxes for me. Plus, the play on words and lyrical context is incredible. Although, that guitar solo ends prematurely, despite fading out nicely.

Blue On Black is an absolute classic, entering into the social consciousness in 1997 when recorded by the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. I thought the original was great, but Five Finger Death Punch has mastered it, making it their own. I dare say, besides the original, there isn't an artist on the planet that could cover this song better. Death Punch's version is really that good!

Fire In The Hole has an incredible musical hook that will grab hold of you and not let go until the very last note is played.

I Refuse is a stunningly beautiful ballad!

It Doesn't Matter is a great song, one I would label as pop-metal, but that isn’t a criticism as the song is excellent.

When The Seasons Change is a near-acoustic song that initially sounds a little out-of-place, but upon repeat listens, blends beautifully with the body of work that is And Justice For None.

Stuck In My Ways is great, but if there is a B-side to be found, this is it.

Rock Bottom is bordering on scream metal but thankfully backs off just before going over the edge. It’s a solid song, but nothing to write home about.

Gone Away is another exceptional cover. The original Offspring recording is remarkably good, but Five Finger Death Punch has taken it to another level, creating a unique, yet familiar, version of the song.

Bloody is a little pedestrian, but if it was recorded by another band, say Nickelback, I'd suggest it was perfectly suited for their style. It just sounds a little out-of-place for Five Finger Death Punch but it remains a solid B-side with a killer ending.

Will The Sun Ever Rise is simply fantastic!

Bad Seed is a symphonic-styled vocal-driven song that will have you reaching for the volume knob. You’ll really want to pump the volume to get the most out of this song, and the entire album. However, if on headphones, you can do permanent damage to your hearing, so please put it on the stereo and drive your neighbours insane. If they complain, tell them you have my permission!

Save Your Breath is the greatest song on the album. I could listen to it on repeat for eternity. It’s the perfect song to close the album with and encourages me to listen to the album again and explore more of Five Finger Death Punch's back catalogue.

From start to finish, And Justice For None is superb and will, without doubt, become a classic metal album as it ages; although, I’d argue that it has already reached that status.

And Justice For None (Deluxe Edition) is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store 16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, And Justice For None (Deluxe Edition) is available on TIDAL Hi-Fi, Apple Music, and Spotify.

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Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter [Special Edition] (Album Review)

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Slipknot – .5: The Gray Chapter [Special Edition] (Album Review)

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.

.5: The Gray Chapter (Special Edition) is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes).

If you prefer streaming, .5: The Gay Chapter (Special Edition) is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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Motionless In White - Graveyard Shift (Album Review)

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Motionless In White - Graveyard Shift (Album Review)

If memory serves me well, the last heavy metal album review on Subjective Sounds was Sepultura’s incredible Machine Messiah. Yes, it has been far too long my fellow Metalheads! Interestingly, just as I was largely unaware of Sepultura, at the time of the review, I similarly know very little about Motionless In White.

While one should never judge an album by its cover, the artwork for Graveyard Shift is AMAZING! Without even playing the first song, I knew it would be a hard hitter. However, I wasn’t prepared for the sonic perfection that was to captivate me for the entire length of the album.

Another reason why I decided to give this album a listen was that Korn's Jonathan Davis features on the song Necessary Evil. Davis is a musical genius and doesn’t associate himself with average or substandard musical endeavours. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

Rats immediately sets the tone for the entire album. I knew within seconds that I was going to love this album, although my family were questioning my sanity as I kept turning the volume up to ear bleeding levels. Rats is one of the best songs to start any metal album on and the mastering, as I will detail later, is amongst the best I have ever heard in the heavy metal genre.

Queen For Queen continues the intense beat and rhythm with a song that has elements of Linkin Park, albeit it with a much heavier and demonic sound.

Necessary Evil (featuring Jonathon Davis) is a masterpiece that every Korn fan will adore.

Soft is the wrong name for this song as it is hardcore, especially from a vocal perspective. The guttural death growl vocal shifts in and out throughout the song. Overall, it reminds me of a mix between Slipknot and Sixx: A.M. You should simply turn this song up and get the headbanging started.

Untouchable is sonic perfection. I absolutely love the industrial metal style. It has an incredible rhythm and while some may think it isn't hard-hitting enough, following Soft, I absolutely love the melody-infused sound. An exceptional song!

Not My Type: Dead As Fuck 2 will see you unable to control your body as it convulses to the beat. I absolutely love this song and is that a little Sheri Moon Zombie laugh I hear? If you're not pissing off your neighbours yet, you're missing out on the entire experience and you need to turn that volume knob to the right!

The Ladder is the first song on the album that I'm not connecting with. There is too much thrash in the guttural vocal for my liking.

Voices is incredible! Yes, it is inspired by the original Linkin Park sound, but Voices is exceptional and is so much more than a Linkin Park imitation.

LOUD (Fuck It) is awesome! It is a fun song that reminds me of Limp Bizkit.

570 returns the album to the guttural vocal, hard hitting, fast riffing sound that we have heard throughout much of the album. Vocally, it is a little more relaxed than The Ladder and subsequently, I really enjoy the song and overall rhythm.

Hourglass has an incredible vibe that returns my thoughts to the musicality experienced in Necessary Evil.

Eternally Yours, as the final track, ensures that I am compelled to listen to the album again and check out the rest of Motionless In White's catalogue. Eternally Yours is no B-side. Quite frankly, there isn't a bad song on the album. Despite not connecting with The Ladder, it does fit the album and style of the band. I have no doubt many of you will enjoy it.

Graveyard Shift is an incredible achievement from a sonic perspective. There is no lack of dynamics and brickwalling is not apparent at any volume level. It is recorded, mixed, and mastered with nothing less than pure perfection.

For this review, I listened to the 24/88.2 kHz TIDAL Masters/MQA edition of the album on TIDAL Hi-Fi. I also listened to the standard TIDAL Hi-Fi 16/44.1 kHz edition and while it is the same mastering, the bass, soundstage, and overall sonic signature is noticeably more accurate with the TIDAL Masters/MQA edition. That said, I wouldn't be disappointed if I only had access to the TIDAL Hi-Fi 16/44.1 kHz edition.

Graveyard Shift is available on Vinyl, CD, the TIDAL Store (16/44.1 kHz FLAC), and iTunes (Mastered for iTunes). Unfortunately, even with that stunning album artwork, the album is not yet available on vinyl. For those who prefer streaming, Graveyard Shift is also available on Spotify and Apple Music.

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