Slipknot has undergone a metamorphosis since their first album, Self-Titled, released 20 years ago. Its conception iconized mechanic jumpsuits and explosive guitar riffs, allowing them to define the nu metal of today. Five years since the release of Slipknot’s fifth album, “.5: The Gray Chapter,” a sixth and highly anticipated record, “We Are Not Your Kind,” slipped into the heavy metal world following the death of the band’s long-time bassist, Paul Gray. Struck with loss, depression and the side effects of a toxic relationship, Corey Taylor, lead singer and songwriter, sought out refuge through his malignant, yet tender and exposed lyrics.
In an interview with Loudwire, Taylor wanted to transcend what the band had released in past records — putting organic materials together and stitching something everyone could feel. “Okay, no one’s trying to force us into a certain mindset or a certain direction. Let’s get back to where we were. Let’s get back to that point where we can craft these amazing moments and knit them together with these heavy, heavy songs – these frenetic f****** bursts of energy,” Taylor said.
“We Are Not Your Kind” reads like a memoir or a letter addressed to every physical and spiritual embodiment of depression. Songs like “Birth of the Cruel” and “Nereo Forte” emulate a joust with depression and how cyclical the battle seems to rise and set over you. However, despite what was heard in their second and personal favorite album, “Iowa,” Taylor’s battle with depression sounds apathetic and comforting. Especially in “Unsainted,” Taylor admits that, “I’ll never kill myself to save my soul,” creating resilency and separation that lingers on.
Slipknot has a sound that is unique to them: heavy drums, chaotic guitar riffs, Taylor’s gravelly voice and long interludes within songs. However, what makes this new album special is that it doesn’t sound solely like Slipknot — it sounds like Pink Floyd, Nine Inch Nails, Type O Negative, Metallica and other experimental sounds laced harmonically with their existing sound.
“Insert Coin” sounds self-destructive with its electronic influences, as well as “Birth of the Cruel” and “What’s Next,” featuring funk sounds and beats paired with hard, sudden thrashes of metal. Doom metal influences with slower, thicker guitar sounds permeate songs dominated by lyrics, prominent in “My Pain.” Even the Pink Floyd-Rolling Stones-inspired choir popularized in “Unsainted” and “Death Because of Death” creates a demonic lullaby that makes church choirs and guitar riffs a match made in metallic heaven.
When listening to “Spiders,” I questioned what they metaphorically represented; the arrachnic nature of humans or the creeping feeling of drowning inside pulling you closer? Perhaps spiders, like in other great metal songs by bands like System of a Down, are overwhelming, methodical and can mean, especially in a poet’s eyes, at least eight possible things. The Mike Meyers-inspired, Nine Inch Nails piano music fully transports their experimental album into a different nu metal experience that rarely appears in the genre and, in fact, needs more representation.
“You want a real smile / I haven’t smiled in years” — the last line of the final track, “Solway Filth,” packages their hybrid and tradition sound into a ugly, yet well wrapped package. It questions the direction Slipknot, especially Taylor, will deviate from in terms of music and the boundaries willing to be twisted. But this is more than Slipknot — it’s the 20 years of inspiration crammed into CD players and onto laptops that will birth the next wave of metal, something that will hopefully break the cycle of what’s been heard before. “We Are Not Your Kind” is not like any kind of Slipknot I know, or even the Taylor I heard while listening to “Iowa”; it’s his metamorphosis, too. Being trapped in a chrysalis of his own mind, music has been a process to cope, a portal to hear and a sanctuary to heal.
I give this album four out of five stars.