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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Slipknot Is Back...But Who's Buying?

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 3:29 AM

Slipknot returns to St. Louis with Lamb of God on August 16. Check out more photos of Slipknot at the 2012 Mayhem Festival here. - PHOTO BY TODD OWYOUNG

Late last year Slipknot rose from the ashes, releasing its first new record since 2008 and its first since losing drummer Joey Jordison and bassist Paul Gray in October. .5: The Gray Chapter has been praised as a return to form for the band, going back to the roots of its more successful sound on the album Iowa back in 2001. Slipknot is in the midst of a European tour with fellow nu-metallers Korn, and just this week the band announced a St. Louis stop at Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre.

This renaissance is surprising, to say the least. For the fans, it's welcome and overdue. For the rest of us, it's just raising all kinds of questions. Full disclosure: I always hated Slipknot, growing up in the era where the group was at its peak. But could that change? Could all these years have melted my icy heart?

See also: Six Nu-Metal Bands You Shouldn't Be Ashamed To Like

When I was a young teenager, Slipknot was everywhere. The group was one of the biggest metal bands on the planet, seemingly universally beloved. The members' masks and secret identities went over as well for them as it did for KISS in the '70s. People were intrigued by the fact that they presented themselves as these avatars.

It helped that the lyrics connected so greatly to what so many teenagers of the era were feeling. Where KISS traded in rock & roll cliches -- because that's what teens of the '70s were into -- my generation was an angry one, and Slipknot thrust itself fully into that niche.

The lyrics were so pissed off and miserable they felt dangerous. Songs like "People = Shit" convinced audiences that these guys could really be the sorts who would gun down innocents. Slipknot took everything Nine Inch Nails and Korn brought to the table and amped it up.

I couldn't relate. I was a sad teen, not an angry one. I never wanted to kill anybody. I was just filled with heartbreak. I listened to emo, not rage-filled music like this. Slipknot's lyrics never got over with me, and I thought the music stunk too. After all, it was essentially just slightly heavier radio-metal.

Photo by Victor Pena
Fans wearing the masks really did not help my perception any.
Not to mention, the mask schtick was just begging to be lumped in with lowest common denominator horrorcore bullshit like Insane Clown Posse. The whole gimmick reeked of the same desperation to be an outsider that painting your face and calling yourself a juggalo did. Emo found its roots in punk, so both traded in real, in-your-face attitudes complete with with raw, barren emotions. You didn't hide behind a mask in that scene.

So, yes, as a young man, I thought Slipknot was garbage. Not just garbage in the way that Korn or Limp Bizkit were garbage, but embarrassing garbage somewhere alongside liking ICP or liking Phil Collins. But here's the point I'm making by laying this all out: People change.

For example, I fell in love with Phil Collins somewhere around the age of sixteen and never stopped. My adoration for that man is endless. I would have called you so many names for appreciating No Jacket Required when I was younger, but now I consider Invisible Touch one of my top ten albums of all time.

See also: Jared Gomes of Hed PE Jumps Off Stage and Punches Heckler at the Gathering of the Juggalos

So let's set aside all this "embarrassing" stuff. I quit believing in "guilty pleasures" a long time ago when I started unabashedly embracing pop songwriting. Let's just look at where Slipknot is today.

Story continues on the next page.

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