Concert Review – Slipknot (Budweiser Stage, Toronto, ON, 08/20/2019)

An awesome night of heavy music spearheaded by the world’s most beloved and rebellious masked horde, showing everyone that if you’re 555, then Toronto is 666.

OPENING ACTS: Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat

Blackened Death Metal, Progressive Groove Metal, Rock N’ Roll and Alternative Metal. What at first it might look like the distinct styles you usually find at an European metal fest during the summer is actually the lineup of the 2019 edition of the highly-acclaimed Knotfest Roadshow, and fortunately for us Torontonians the one and only Slipknot and their friends from Behemoth, Gojira and Volbeat brought that amalgamation of very different but utterly electrifying genres to the always great Budweiser Stage on another hot summer day in the city. It was a Tuesday, just the beginning of the week, which means most people who attended the show still had an entire week of work after around six intense hours of loud beats, unstoppable riffs and demented circle pits. Well, who cares, right? It’s all in the name of our good old Heavy Metal and Rock N’ Roll.

Just by arriving at the venue you could see it was going to be a very special day for longtime fans of Slipknot, with several of them being properly dressed as their idols, including some wicked (and a few weird) masks, showing how much those people love and respect a band that revolutionized metal music 20 years ago and that are still alive and kicking. If you had the opportunity to arrive to the Budweiser stage right when the gates were opened, you were able to enjoy a lot of different attractions such as a special Slipknot exhibition right beside where 2018 Wacken Metal Battle Canada winners Centuries of Decay (you can see more details about their 2018 win HERE) where blasting their first-class Progressive/Atmospheric Death Metal, enjoy one or more of the several food trucks available, test your knowledge of metal music by taking a fun quiz at the Monster Energy truck (needless to say, I had all six answers correct and got myself a nice Monster Energy bandana), or even take a picture with that crazy dude who tried to swim back to the Slayer concert in 2018 at that same venue. He was wearing a personalized shirt about his 2018 incident and two arm floats. Yes, he’s that crazy.

However, when the clock hit 5:30pm sharp, it was time for the gods and demons of heavy music and all fans that were already at the venue (and I was surprised by the huge number of people that managed to get there in time for the very first concert) to witness another blasphemous, theatrical and absolutely heavy-as-hell performance by Poland’s own BEHEMOTH. Still promoting their awesome 2018 opus I Loved You At Your Darkest, the iconic Nergal and his henchmen Seth, Orion and Inferno delivered a short and sweet concert for fans of their darker version of Death Metal, literally spitting fire, blood and blasphemy on our faces for around 40 minutes, with songs like Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer,  Bartzabel and Chant for Eschaton 2000 proving why they became one of the most beloved extreme bands of the past decade, and also one of the most hated and abhorred by any type of church (which in the end is a very positive thing).

Setlist
Solve
Wolves ov Siberia
Daimonos
Ora Pro Nobis Lucifer
Bartzabel
Conquer All
Sabbath Mater
Chant for Eschaton 2000

Band members
Adam “Nergal” Darski – lead vocals, guitars
Patryk Dominik “Seth” Sztyber – guitars
Tomasz “Orion” Wróblewski – bass guitar
Zbigniew Robert “Inferno” Promiński – drums and percussion

After a quick break the stage was ready with all of its lights aiming at our faces to warn us the pulverizing concert by French Progressive/Groove Metal institution GOJIRA was about to begin, and let me tell you it was simply fantastic and insanely heavy from start to finish. The Duplantier Brothers Joe and Mario, together with Christian Andreu on the guitar and Jean-Michel Labadie on bass delivered a neck-breaking performance for our total delight, leaving us all eager for more of their music in Canadian lands. I loved how heavy, dense and thrilling songs like Stranded, Flying Whales (my favorite of their setlist) and Silvera sounded last night, and we must thank Mr. Mario Duplantier for that. The guy is an untamed beast on drums, crushing his drum set flawlessly and throwing almost all of his sticks to the fans throughout his bestial performance. After such devastating concert by Gojira, I must say once again there’s only one thing I hate about festivals, and that’s the fact bands like Gojira do not have enough time to show the crowd everything they got.

Setlist
Toxic Garbage Island
Backbone
Stranded
Flying Whales
Love
The Cell
Silvera
The Gift of Guilt

Band members
Joe Duplantier – vocals, guitar
Christian Andreu – guitar
Jean-Michel Labadie – bass
Mario Duplantier – drums

After two demolishing concerts of extreme music, it was time to cool things down a bit with the heavier-than-usual Rock N’ Roll by Danish institution VOLBEAT, who are just beginning to promote their newest album Rewind, Replay, Rebound. As a big fan of Volbeat, I was a little worried about how the most berserk Slipknot fans would react to their fusion of lighter styles like Rock N’ Roll and Hard Rock, and during the first few songs let’s say most fans weren’t impressed with their music. However, after Sad Man’s Tongue (preceded by a snippet of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”) and Black Rose, featuring Toronto’s own Danko Jones on vocals together with Michael Polsen, things started to pick up and the more than 13 thousand fans at the venue who were already anxious for Slipknot had a great time with the band, especially when they played their heavier stuff like A Warrior’s Call, Dead But Rising and Seal the Deal. In a nutshell, it might not have been the best slot to add Volbeat, right after Behemoth and Gojira and right before Slipknot, but you know what? In the end it all worked really well, something only talented bands like Volbeat can do even against all odds.

Setlist
Born to Raise Hell (Motörhead song)
The Devil’s Bleeding Crown
Lola Montez
Sad Man’s Tongue
Black Rose (with Danko Jones)
The Everlasting
Slaytan
Dead But Rising
A Warrior’s Call / I Only Want to Be With You
Last Day Under the Sun
Doc Holliday
Seal the Deal
Still Counting
Sawdust in the Blood (Rob Zombie song)

Band members
Michael Poulsen – vocals, rhythm guitar
Rob Caggiano – lead guitar
Kaspar Boye Larsen – bass guitar
Jon Larsen – drums

SLIPKNOT

It was already past 9pm when the speakers began playing AC/DC’s rock anthem “For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)”, getting our engines revved up for a storm of heaviness, insanity and explosions by American institution SLIPKNOT. It was total chaos and anarchy from start to finish, with the first few songs from their setlist, those being the classics People = Shit, (sic) and Get This, already inspiring all their fans to go absolutely mental into the pit. The temperature at the Budweiser Stage was just going up, with their new songs Unsainted, Solway Firth (both from their brand new, ass-kicking album We Are Not Your Kind) and All Out Life working even better than expected. As a matter of fact, I was more than sure those three songs would sound fantastic on stage, first because they’re already damn good songs, but mainly due to the fact Slipknot on stage always take their heaviness to the next level.

Corey, Mick, Jim and all others were on fire during their long and incendiary performance, with all their stage paraphernalia (and the Budweiser Stage is just perfect for that type of concert) adding a very welcome touch of insanity to the night. Not only that, it was visible how Corey was extremely happy to be back in Toronto after a long time, letting all the energy coming from the crowd penetrate deep inside his mind and helping him growl and scream like a beast until the very end. “We’ve been at this for 20 years! It hasn’t always been easy, but looking at all of you here tonight, I can safely say we’ll be doing it for another 20,” said a more-than-excited Corey to his fans before crushing their heads once again with their venomous music. I honestly have no idea if they can keep that level of violence on stage for another two decades, but if they keep going and delivering top-of-the-line heavy music like what Slayer have been doing until now, we can rest assured rock and metal will never die.

Although the fans at the floor section were out of control inside some killer circle pits, I must say the most demented guy from the entire night was the band’s newest member Tortilla Man. How deranged and talented is that guy? He kept pounding his drums, screaming, jumping up and down, dancing and hitting his beer kegs as hard as possible without showing any signs of fatigue for almost two hours; now I fully understand why the rest of the band is so happy and excited to have Tortilla Man in the band. The only field where he wasn’t number 1 in madness and precision was dancing, because that’s Mr. Sid Wilson’s undisputed title. I don’t know for sure what exactly he does behind his turntables, but when he’s there dancing and having fun around the stage it’s a whole new thing. That guy is just as sick as his music, no doubt about that. Anyway, after the all-time hits Spit It Out (including their famous “get down/jump the fuck up” interaction with the crowd) and Surfacing, it was time for Slipknot to say goodbye, to promise us all they will return to Toronto, and for the fans to breather a little and try to recover their energies to try to get home safe and sound. And as one final message after such amazing night of metal music, all I have to say to you is that if you’re 555, then I’m 666. As simple as that.

Setlist
For Those About to Rock (We Salute You) (AC/DC song)
(515)
People = Shit
(sic)
Get This
Unsainted
Before I Forget
Solway Firth
The Heretic Anthem
Psychosocial
The Devil in I
Prosthetics
Vermilion
Custer
Sulfur
All Out Life
Duality

Encore:
Spit It Out
Surfacing
‘Til We Die

Band members
(#0) Sid Wilson – turntables, keyboards
(#4) Jim Root – lead and rhythm guitars
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – samples, media, keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – custom percussion, backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – lead and rhythm guitars
(#8) Corey Taylor – lead vocals
Alessandro Venturella – bass
Jay Weinberg – drums
Tortilla Man – custom percussion, backing vocals

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Advertisements

Album Review – Slipknot / We Are Not Your Kind (2019)

Heavier and more experimental than usual, those masked metallers are back with a fantastic album that proves once again why Heavy Metal is our kind of music.

From the obscure depths of the human psyche, American Alternative Metal horde Slipknot returns after five long years with a brand new album, entitled We Are Not Your Kind, the sixth studio album in the career of those masked marauders and a beyond solid statement by the band saying that, despite all the losses and problems they’ve had in the past decade or so, they can still deliver top-of-the-line metal music for the masses. Produced by Greg Fidelman, who has already worked with several renowned bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath, Slayer and with Slipknot themselves in the albums .5 The Gray Chapter in 2014 and Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) in 2004, We Are Not Your Kind has been described as a heavier and more experimental album than their previous releases featuring moody instrumentals and electronic elements, and the final result is simply stunning.

Not only that, We Are Not Your Kind is the band’s first album since the firing of longtime member Chris Fehn, while the rest of the crew remains the same, with Sid Wilson and Craig “133” Jones on turntables, samples, media and keyboards, Jim Root and Mick Thomson on the guitars, Shawn “Clown” Crahan on custom percussion and backing vocals, Corey Taylor on lead vocals, Alessandro Venturella on bass and Jay Weinberg on drums, not to mention their newest member “Tortilla Man” also on custom percussion and backing vocals, who joined the band for their live performances earlier this year. Jim Root himself said that the album is “the most time we’ve had to write a record, and work stuff out together” and that “while the industry is moving toward singles, Slipknot wanted to make an album experience, front to back.” On a side note, while the title of the album is taken from a line in the band’s standalone single “All Out Life”, released in 2018, that specific song is not featured on the standard edition, but only on the Japanese edition for a reason beyond my knowledge. Well, who cares, right? As long as the music found in the standard edition of the album kicks ass we can live without “All Out Life” despite that being a damn good song.

Insert Coin is one of those fantastic, ethereal intros that transport the listener into the wicked world of Slipknot, before their new anthem Unsainted, featuring the Angel City Chorale, invades our senses, with the thunderous percussion blasted by Jay and Shawn reeking classic Slipknot, all boosted by the sick shredding by Jim and Mick and lyrics that deal with Corey’s fight against depression (“Oh, I’ll never kill myself to save my soul / I was gone but how was I to know? / I didn’t come this far to sink so low / I’m finally holding on to letting go”). Needless to say, I can’t wait to watch them playing this song live next week in Toronto, like what they did on Jimmy Kimmel Live earlier this year. Birth of the Cruel, a mid-tempo tune perfect for headbanging while Corey alternates between his demented clean vocals and harsh roars, is a lot less violent but still creepy and thunderous, with Jim, Mick and Alessandro delivering tons of groove through their strings; followed by the somber bridge Death Because of Death, featuring guest vocalist Kat Primetau, warming us up for Nero Forte, bringing forward a classic fusion of Heavy and Alternative Metal and a great job done by Jay on drums, dictating the song’s pounding rhythm while Corey sounds as crazy as he can be, always supported by smooth but piercing backing vocals.

Critical Darling is an almost-radio-friendly tune by Corey, Shawn & Co., showcasing slashing riffs by the band’s badass guitar duo while Corey gnarls manically, once again supported by spot-on backing vocals which end up making the chorus extremely catchy; whereas in A Liar’s Funeral a cryptic intro morphs into some sort of “new version” of their own dark ballad “Snuff”, suddenly exploding into a neck-breaking sonority with hints of Doom and Sludge Metal, alternating between sheer melancholy and raging madness from start to finish. Then in the magnificent Red Flag we face the most classic version of Slipknot in the album, overflowing insanity, heaviness, fury and that awesome blend of the wicked noises by Sid and Craig with the venomous percussion by Shawn. Hence, this should sound outstanding if played live, not to mention how sharp both guitars and Alessandro’s bass punches sound. Then after the uncanny bridge What’s Next we’re treated to one of Slipknot’s most experimental songs of all time, Spiders, which sounds absolutely addictive, demented and fun, with all its background noises and percussion generating a unique ambience for our avid ears and mind. Put differently, simply relax, sit down and sing the song’s weird lyrics along with Corey, while Jim and Mick deliver short but crushing riffs as the music progresses.

Somber beats and riffs ignite the pulverizing Orphan, presenting the band’s trademark sonority that made them famous worldwide, and with Alessandro and Jay being on fire with their rumbling instruments while Corey’s vocals get utterly deranged, sounding perfect for smashing your skull into the circle pit. The last part of album is comprised of longer-than-usual songs that surpass the 6-minute barrier, starting with the very experimental My Pain, presenting an eerie atmosphere created by Sid and Craig and low, pensive vocalizations; however, the music never gets as heavy or fast as we’re used to, making me wonder if fans of classic Slipknot will enjoy it. Anyway, that eccentric vibe goes on in Not Long for This World, where Corey and the band’s electronic duo Sid and Craig set the tone before the rest of the band comes ripping with their acid instruments, bringing to our ears a beautiful melody and rumbling bass lines, with its creepy ending building an instant connection with Solway Firth, a circle pit-catalyst showcasing scorching riffs by Jim and Mick and endless electricity flowing from Jay’s beats, while Corey declaims the song’s austere words in great fashion (“I’m not ahead of my time- I just drew the first breath – If I’m alive tomorrow / I will alleviate the pressure… by cutting you out of me / I found my bottom line – dead on the front lines- I know I’ll never go home / So set fire to your ships and past regrets and be free”). And lastly, as aforementioned, All Out Life might be only present in the Japanese edition of the album, but it’s such a great song, perfect for slamming and screaming its lyrics together with the band (like you can see on their performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live), it makes the investment in this version of the album totally worth it.

In a nutshell, one of the most innovative and influential bands of modern metal music from the past 20 years, the one and only Slipknot, managed to deliver a fantastic album against all odds, proving once again that there’s nothing better than adversity to makes us (and, in this particular case, the entire band) stronger and more focused. Having said that, I highly recommend you grab your copy of the album, as well as other well-crafted merch, from the Slipknot Official Store, and buy your ticket for the Knotfest Roadshow when the band invades your city with their chaotic and rebellious anthems. We Are Not Your Kind might sound a bit too experimental or modern for some people, but I’m pretty sure most fans of contemporary heavy music will have a very good time listening to this multi-layered and very dense album. And whenever you catch yourself screaming “we are not your kind!” together with Corey and the guys, you’ll be at the same time showing everyone Heavy Metal is and will always be YOUR kind of music.

Best moments of the album: Unsainted, Red Flag, Spiders, Orphan and All Out Life.

Worst moments of the album: My Pain.

Released in 2019 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. Insert Coin 1:38
2. Unsainted 4:20
3. Birth of the Cruel 4:35
4. Death Because of Death 1:20
5. Nero Forte 5:15
6. Critical Darling 6:25
7. A Liar’s Funeral 5:27
8. Red Flag 4:11
9. What’s Next 0:53
10. Spiders 4:03
11. Orphan 6:01
12. My Pain 6:48
13. Not Long for This World 6:35
14. Solway Firth 5:56

Japanese Edition bonus track
15. All Out Life 5:40

Band members
(#0) Sid Wilson – turntables, keyboards
(#4) Jim Root – lead and rhythm guitars
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – samples, media, keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – custom percussion, backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – lead and rhythm guitars
(#8) Corey Taylor – lead vocals
Alessandro Venturella – bass
Jay Weinberg – drums

Guest musicians
Angel City Chorale – choral performance on “Unsainted”
Kat Primetau – additional vocals on “Death Because of Death”

Album Review – Slipknot / .5 The Gray Chapter (2014)

One of the most controversial heavy bands of all time strikes again with a very solid and aggressive tribute to their deceased bassist.

Rating4

Slipknot-5-Album-CoverWhen American Alternative Metal band Slipknot helped put the city of Des Moines, Iowa, United States on the map in the end of the 90’s with their never-before-seen ruthless music, few people believed they would last longer than a couple of years due to several reasons, one of them being their too unorthodox approach, or in other words, they did not play “traditional” heavy music. Well, guess what? Even after all these years and all their countless internal issues, especially the painful death of bassist Paul Gray (R.I.P.) in 2010 and the departure of drummer Joey Jordison in the end of 2013, they’re still alive and more than capable of delivering some good heavy music, like what’s found in their brand new album .5: The Gray Chapter.

Although .5: The Gray Chapter, which by the way is the fifth studio album in the band’s career, the first in six long years and the first to not feature the two aforementioned members, is not as good as most of their previous releases, it’s still a very enjoyable and violent album that surpasses 75 minutes of music, with all those “special effects” only Slipknot can offer us. It sounds like a modern mix of the excellent Iowa and Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), with all lyrics being even more wicked and controversial than before.

And there’s no better way to start a Slipknot album than with one of their trademarks, a dark and creepy intro this time named XIX, with beautiful words such as “This song is not for the living / This song is for the dead” setting up the tone for the ferocious Sarcastrophe, a song that begins as melancholic as the intro before turning into a mix of all Slipknot phases, sounding a lot like “Gematria (The Killing Name)”, especially the vocal lines and riffs (albeit a lot less complex), followed by the Thrash Metal riffs in AOV, which also follows the same musical pattern as in All Hope Is Gone.

I have no idea who the new/session drummer is, but he does a pretty decent job in songs like The Devil in I, where he provides the whole song an extra dose of violence even during its lighter parts, saving it from becoming too soft or too bland. The following track will generate lots of positive and negative reactions from the listeners: Killpop is one of those cases where Slipknot proves once again they know how to craft some cool semi-ballads, this time 100% focused on the vocal lines (both clean and harsh) by Corey Taylor, but many people will end up complaining it sounds too commercial. If you love it, simply enjoy this nice song, otherwise skip to Skeptic, a very old school Slipknot song, and everything you truly love in this band will be there for you, including riffs, drums and vocals, sounding a lot like their material from Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). Besides, it seems to be one more explicit tribute to Paul Gray based on its sorrowful lyrics (“The world will never see another crazy motherfucker like you / The world will never know another man as amazing as you”).

SlipknotLech is one of those Slipknot songs you wait for during their performances to start jumping up and down like crazy when Corey gives the signal, with drums, percussion and guitar lines boosting its energy level, while Goodbye is just filler: I don’t know what they wanted to accomplish with this song, but it didn’t work at all, making it totally disposable. Then we have Nomadic, a good song with interesting breaks and chorus, nothing special but its Iowa-ish vibe keeps it far away from being boring, and The One That Kills the Least, which reminds me of some Stone Sour songs.

After all those highs and lows, it is the last part of the album what all diehard fans of Slipknot were truly waiting for, and it all begins with Custer, that type of sonic madness Slipknot feel really comfortable in playing. It’s a fuckin’ sick “party” full of weird electronic music effects, with a chorus that will drive fans crazy during their live performances (“Cut – Cut – Cut me up and Fuck – Fuck – Fuck me up / CUT – CUT – CUT ME UP AND FUCK – FUCK – FUCK ME UP!”). It’s the best song of the album, and it will sound absolutely amazing live, no doubt about that. The sinister intro Be Prepared for Hell works as an excellent warm-up for the “hell” that comes next, the disturbing The Negative One: it has that raw instrumental and direct sounding like their old classics, with highlights to the great job done by Sid Wilson and Craig “133” Jones in adding a lot of bizarreness to the song. Do I need to mention it’s another perfect option for some insane circle pits? The regular version of the album ends in a pretty weird way with If Rain Is What You Want, a song that’s a lot less metal and more alternative than any other track in .5 The Gray Chapter. And if you purchase the special edition of it you’ll also get two bonus songs that are relatively boring compared to the official album tracks: Override is just an average song, and The Burden focus too heavily on the atmosphere and forgets about the music itself.

You can take a listen to some or all of the tracks in .5 The Gray Chapter on Slipknot’s official YouTube channel, and also see them kicking ass live during their Knotfest dates. Love them or hate them, no matter how controversial they are, we all have to admit their music is unique and each member of the band deserves our recognition for being able to create such a solid, aggressive and entertaining album/tribute even after all the hell they have been through in recent years.

Best moments of the album: Skeptic, Custer and The Negative One.

Worst moments of the album: The Devil in I and Goodbye.

Released in 2014 Roadrunner Records

Track listing
1. XIX 3:10
2. Sarcastrophe 5:06
3. AOV 5:32
4. The Devil in I 5:42
5. Killpop 3:45
6. Skeptic 4:46
7. Lech 4:50
8. Goodbye 4:35
9. Nomadic 4:18
10. The One That Kills the Least 4:11
11. Custer 4:14
12. Be Prepared for Hell 1:57
13. The Negative One 5:25
14. If Rain Is What You Want 6:20

Special Edition bonus tracks
15. Override 5:37
16. The Burden 5:23

Band members*
(#0) Sid Wilson – turntables
(#3) Chris Fehn – percussion, backing vocals
(#4) Jim Root – guitars, bass
(#5) Craig “133” Jones – sampling, keyboards
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan – percussion, backing vocals
(#7) Mick Thomson – guitars, bass
(#8) Corey Taylor – vocals

Additional musicians
Alessandro Venturella – bass
Donnie Steele – bass

*A new drummer is currently in the band but has not yet been named by the band, rumors circulate about his identity but so far no official statement has been made as to who it is.