Roadrunner Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Roland Fratzl


So, this is one of the most popular heavy metal acts out there these days, I understand.

I am a fan of heavy music in general - no matter the era, as long as it is well composed and performed. Note that I used the term "music", which can hardly be applied when describing Slipknot's second album, Iowa, released in 2001.

Before I continue, I just want to make clear that I am not a close minded, stuffy, jaded, conservative old geezer who pines for the "glory days" of old 70's and 80's metal...I listen to music of all genres and generations, and constantly expose myself to the newest sounds coming out of today's youth.

But this cd is purely abysmal.

Rarely before have I subjected myself to drivel of such astounding proportions. For the first time in my life, thoughts of suicide gave me feelings of hope to end my misery while sitting through this, track by track. Iowa is the recorded equivalent of Chinese water torture - the irritation is constant, relentless, and seemingly infinite. I could even picture Tony Robbins wanting to off himself to escape the infernal noise.

Noise. Not something I use particularly often when describing music, but in this case nothing could be more apt, really. It is a simple, unavoidable fact that one can only play so fast and so heavy before melody degrades into a tuneless cesspool of nonsensical distortion, at which point I might as well go hang out in an automobile stamping facility for the same privilege.

How can any sane carbon based denizen of the planet known as Earth possibly find any enjoyment in this so called album of music? Sonic defecation is what I call it. Heh, I bet the band would not be above using that as a future album title, and what a fitting description of their all encompassing mediocrity it would be.

Slipknot seems to have a set pattern that they repeat in every song, without fail - a brief intro that very quickly explodes into a predictable fury of double bass drumming, laughable gutteral growling followed by hoarsely screamed vocals, and sludgy guitar riffs that are so low that they sound out of tune and so stupid and simplistic that you'll undoubtedly get a burning desire to violently snatch the band's guitars away from them only to place them in the backyard outside at night with the reassuring knowledge that the scavenging neighbourhood racoons will provide more interesting riffage by unknowingly stampeding over the strings while gleefully sniffing each others anuses.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

While listening to the pathetic repetition that is to be found on every track, I almost feel sorry for the band members, seeing how embarrassing it all is to hear. I certainly would be entirely ashamed of myself to be found in such an atrocious outfit. Then I remind myself that they are on a major label and one of the most popular metal acts out there these days among the uneducated 12 - 18 year old demographic, at which point my state of near-sympathy quickly reverts back to the appropriate revulsion.

Such overly-adrenalized aggression becomes meaningless without creative melodies to present their musical vision - or maybe this is all that they are capable of. Seems to me like Slipknot compensates for a lack of songwriting ability by making their "music" as cartoonishly violent and over the top as possible, and I'm only talking about the sound! Never mind the fact that the members all perform in a variety of cheesy horror masks.

As for the lyrics, they are hardly any better than the noise. Typical profanity laced violent and angry lashing out at the cruel world nonsense. Suburban teenage shopping mall angst. I'll bet more than a few of the band members were recruited straight out of Wal-Mart for this gig.

And what's with having NINE people in this band anyway? What the hell do they do? 99% of the time you'll only hear a screaming vocalist, a hyperactive drummer, a rhythm guitarist banging out the mind numbing riffs, a second guitarist adding screeching, odd guitar effects on top, and now and then you'll be able to detect the presence of a bassist (although with the guitars already tuned down so low to the point where blowing on the strings would make them flap wildly in the air, you wonder why they'd bother with bass at all). That's five. From having the misfortune of experiencing their live set at Ozzfest 2001, I know that the band also includes a turntablist, although the only scratching I heard on Iowa was a few brief seconds during one of the extremely rare and brief quieter moments, during the song "Skin Ticket". There's also a percussionist, which basically means he occasionally bangs two pieces of metal together, but what's the point of including a role like that in a band where such a person's work is almost entirely inaudible? That leaves two more people, one of which I'm assuming must work with keyboards or other electronic devices to toss in the strange noises that manage to peek through the carnage. For all I know, the last guy's function may be to provide orifices for the relief of sexual tension - no groupie would stoop to servicing these bozo clowns.

Muhahaha - leave it to a band with the collective IQ of a toadstool to split the profits nine ways.

I'd just like to recap by saying that I appreciate most forms of dark and heavy music, but for my tastes it must at least contain skillful musicianship and/or intelligent arrangements. If you feel the same, then do not even think of Slipknot. I only paid three dollars for the cd brand new, which is as close to a free cd as you'll get unless someone just gives it to you (which is highly likely in this case), and I still feel like I got jipped. However, if you're just looking for no frills headbanging as a form of tension release, then maybe Iowa is the thing for you, because if nothing else, it certainly will rip your ass off.

You know, Slipknot reminds me a lot of Gwar, a parody band that purposely indulges in the most ridiculous metal cliches for the sake of humour, and believe me, there were many points throughout Iowa where I would have burst out laughing if it wasn't so utterly ugly sounding. A good example of this humour (unintentional, in Slipknot's case) is during "The Heretic Anthem", when the singer screams "If I'm 555, then you're 666!!!" I'm afraid though that Slipknot are quite dead serious about this venture, and that is the real tragedy.

Rating: F

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2002 Roland Fratzl and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Roadrunner Records, and is used for informational purposes only.