The Negative One
Beginning with a growing intensity of noise, The Negative One bursts into a riff reminiscent of The Shape and The Heretic Anthem, accompanied by the clang of Clown’s and Chris Fehn’s custom percussion and the wail of Sid Wilson’s electronics. The Iowa-era similarities don’t stop there, as Corey Taylor unleashes a relentless barrage of snarled vocals whilst the dense wall of sound evolves to include layers of samples and turntable licks. As the first single from the album, The Negative One is a bold statement. Gone are the radio-friendly melodies and intricate guitar solos, replaced instead by the raw aggression that made Slipknot’s debut stand out above the nu metal crowd.
The Devil In I
If this is the radio-friendly single that the label wants to release to appeal to a wider rock audience, then Slipknot fans can be assured that they have returned to pure heaviness of pastures old. The track’s main melody is menacing and addictive, whilst the verses relax into a sombre march that sees new bassist Alessandro Venturella come to the fore. Yes, Taylor’s verse vocals are clean and melodic, but his delivery is haunting and he soon rips into a roar during the mosh-pit groove of The Devil In I‘s chorus. This track plays on a similar level to the predecessor’s lead single Psychosocial; finding the balance between brutality and melody that Slipknot have been practicing ever since 1999’s Wait and Bleed.
Slipknot have often stated how influential Korn have been to their sound and Custer pays homage to them by opening with a vocal exchange that imitates the one heard on Korn’s Clown. Just like The Negative One, Custer sounds as if it was lifted off Iowa, with turntable riffing, percussion overload and sense of immediate danger. However Custer doesn’t feel as intense as the tracks from the aforementioned album for two reasons. The primary cause for this is that the music seems a little unfocused, as if it were designed to imitate, rather than emulate. Secondly Taylor’s lyrics aren’t as bleak as the themes of rejection and anger than permeate Iowa, instead they focus on society and politics: a theme that soon gets old.
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*As I am about to publish this post the album’s intro track XIX has just been uploaded for streaming on Slipknot’s website.