Welcome to Dissected, where we disassemble a band’s catalog, based on the exact science of personal opinion, late night debates, and the love of music. This time, we follow Slipknot’s career, from their 1996 full-length demo, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat., to their most recent effort, 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind.
Slipknot are one of the biggest bands of the 21st century. From their theatrical presentation to the brutality of their music, it didn’t take long for the band to capture the ears and hearts of listeners around the globe. Since the release of their 1999 self-titled album, the masked marauders have continued to push their creative muscles to the test, expanding upon their brand of heaviness.
From the visceral cuts off of 2001’s Iowa, to the somber atmosphere off of 2008’s All Hope Is Gone, to the sonic evolution displayed on 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind, Slipknot have intertwined ferocity and emotion into their work.
From the beginning, Slipknot have always been a band about family; before the group even took the world by storm, you had nine dudes from Des Moines, Iowa, looking to just jam together. With the unfortunate passing of bassist Paul Gray, as well as the surprising ousters of drummer Joey Jordison and percussionist Chris Fehn, Slipknot’s lineup has taken some hits over the years.
That said, on each of their releases, the band has always brought something fascinating to the table. While not every release is all around perfect, there’s something to be appreciated throughout all the band’s material. When compiling our votes together, we saw a lot of commonalities across the board. That said, there were a few contenders for No. 1 — a sure sign of a solid discography. So, let’s not wait (and bleed) anymore, and see how we ranked Slipknot’s albums from worst to best. — Michael Pementel
07. Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. (1996)
Spitting It Out (Analysis): Released fittingly on Halloween 1996, the first Slipknot full-length, Mate. Feed. Kill Repeat. barely hints at the platinum-selling superstars that the band would become. In fact, Slipknot don’t even consider it their first album, calling it a demo. Highly experimental and unorthodox, the album’s brand of genre-bending death and nu metal is as open minded as it is unrefined. This still-embryonic Slipknot did feature late bassist Paul Gray and former drummer Joey Jordison, but shares almost no members with the band today: Mick Thompson and Craig Jones are credited but did not perform on the record, making Shawn “Clown” Crahan the only current member of the band who took part in the recording. Snippets of these songs wound up recycled on the band’s next two records.
The record owes much of its sound to guitarist Josh Brainard, who apparently envisioned a Slipknot with much more brutal death metal in the mix. His guitar tone edged into the chainsaw sound of Entombed at times, and especially early on the record edges into slam and grindcore territory. As was typical at the time, that grindcore influence included dalliances in other genres such as jazz and funk —“Do Nothing/Bitchslap” edges into something like The Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza territory.
This version of Slipknot was never going to succeed, as it produced mostly failed experiments — thanks in large part to vocalist Anders Colsefini, who was simply not up to the task of selling this music. Replacing him with Corey Taylor is one of metal’s greatest trade-ups. That said, it seems as though Brainard had more to say as a musician. It’s a shame he didn’t start another band.
The Heroic Anthem (Best Song): Out of all of these songs, “Gently” sounds the most like classic Slipknot, with its deep groove and mixture of spoken and growled vocals. While it’s probably the least-adventurous song on Mate. Feed. Kill Repeat., it’s also the most consistent. Small wonder that it wound up in a heavily reworked version on Iowa five years later.
One I Forget (Worst Song): It’s tough to pick a worst song here — the throwaway bonus track, “Dogfish Rising” is a typically nonsensical nu metal bonus track and therefore seems like the obvious choice, but it’s a little too obvious. “Confessions” on the other hand is a serious enough attempt at the kind of melodic brooding that the band later mastered, but Colsefini’s forced clean singing does it no justice. It’s probably the worst Slipknot song full-stop. — Joseph Schafer