113: SLIPKNOT

From a bizarre, masked and jump-suited nine-piece, to one of the biggest heavy acts on the planet within twenty years – Slipknot’s success is both obvious and earned.

With their debut, the connection to nu-metal were apparent – some rap-style vocals, downtuned guitars, and a turntables, not to mention it was in the middle of nu-metal’s peak. However, over five subsequent albums, their sound has matured, grown, and diversified. More clean vocals were employed, and influences from groove and alternative metal were added to the mix.

Slipknot’s most central element however has to be the presence of nine members. With twin guitars and a bass accompanied by a drummer and two additional percussionists, as well as both turntables and a sampler, Slipknot’s trademark sound is dense, complex, and multifaceted. The guitar tone alone is immediately recognisable, but expanding that sound with the element listed above makes a very distinct overall sound that the band has honed over the last two decades and is simply untouchable by anyone else. That’s their sound.

And it is a well utilised and versatile sound. Slipknot’s back catalogue is absolutely stacked with modern classics – dozens of tracks that will have entire arenas pogo-ing and screaming the lyrics. In fact, such is the consistency of Slipknot’s output, I’m having more trouble than any previous bamd deciding which song to include for this post. They have many songs that became big enough to be considered cultural touchstones for people my age.

It would be disingenuous to not mention Slipknot’s appearance, though some might tell you – right or wrong – that a band’s appearance should have no bearing on anything. But, as we’ve already established the strengths and iconic nature of their music, we can agree the look isn’t some gimmick hiding a lack of talent.

Slipknot are know for their masks, each one unique and often changing designs between albums, as well as their matching jumpsuits and assigned numbers. Over the years this concept has remains part of the Slipknot mythos, with new mask reveals for each album cycle being cause for much discussion and excitement by fans. They even stuck so firmly to the masked image that, when I was a teenager, nobody even knew what they looked like. The mystery of their identity might be gone, but the masks and unmistakable image remain. Another key component of the Slipknot concept is the live shows.

I’ve been fortunate to see Slipknot four times, and each time was a revelation. The stage show grows with each tour, adding rising platforms, elaborate stage designs to host all nine members, and always fire, more fire!

Within about twenty years Slipknot have risen to the upper echelons of metal bands on the planet, earning lifetime headline status at any festival they play. While they were dismissed as an oddity in the late 90s, few who’ve seen them perform live will argue their status these days.

Long live the Nine.