The Gray Chapter is the fifth album by American heavy metal band Slipknot. It will be released on 21 October, 2014 (20 September in the UK) via Roadrunner Records. Notably, it is the first album without Paul Gray (RIP) and Joey Jordison, the latter having been kicked out of the band for unknown reasons. The Gray Chapter has the singles “The Negative One” and “The Devil In I”.
When I first heard the two released singles before the album’s release, I liked what I heard – they were both heavy, but “The Devil In I” hand a prominent use of Corey’s clean vocals and less harsher tones. Ever since this album was announced I was very excited for it. I had seen Slipknot twice at Download (’04 and ’05). In ’04 they were good but then came back storming in ’05. When hearing the album in full for the first time I had to let in to play a few more times to let it to really sink in. It’s definitely an album that everyone has waited for.
How to explain it? It has a bit of everything really: heavy, soft, even “Goodbye” goes into the ‘ballad’ territory but doesn’t be too cheese about it. The balance between the dynamics is done really well and doesn’t feel forced – it feels natural. The band has said the album’s sound is a mix-up of the material heard on ‘Iowa’ and ‘The Subliminal Verses’ and, to answer that, I would say the guitars especially feel very heavy, whilst Corey using his clean vocals reminds me a lot of The Subliminal Verses.
‘XIX’ is a perfect opening track and it begins with ambient sounds and a synth lead, before Corey launches into a short monologue. “Nothing appeals to me / No one feels like me / I’m too busy being calm to disappear / I’m in no shape to be alone / Contrary to the shit that you might hear.” Is one of my favourite lines from the song, his voice sounding better than ever.
As it moves through the album, I get this feeling of excitement running through me. The album sounds so good, so balanced between dark and light, almost as if they are hesitant on being one or the other. ‘AOV’ is a standout track, with ‘Killpop’ being another highlight of the album, as it’s one of those mellow songs on the album that gets under your skin, whilst it feels like it has an evil undertone.
‘Sceptic’ is undoubtedly about Paul…just listen to the lyrics. ‘Goodbye’, as mentioned earlier, starts off as a ‘ballad’ in many ways but soon returns heavy again. From here on in, the album pretty much returns heavy again with tracks such as ‘Nomadic’, ‘Custer’ (you may have seen it again spread about by the metal blogs a while ago). The short interlude track ‘Be Prepared For Hell’ signals the ending of the album.
‘The Negative One’ which was released as a ‘thank you’ to the fans by Slipknot way before the album’s release so you’re bound to know that one and, finally, ‘If Rain Is What You Want’ closes ‘The Gray Chapter’ really well. So, after listening to the album a few times (considering all of the above) I find that the album sounds really great. The two bonus tracks ‘Override’ and ‘The Burden’ aren’t all that great. More or less I think they are filler tracks, something as a last-minute added on to make the special edition ‘special’. Worth the extra money for the special edition? Definitely not in my opinion.
Overall ‘The Gray Chapter’ is an excellent album and a return to form for Slipknot. I think everyone expected them to release a new album in time, but an album as a good as this? I would never have seen it. This album is so varied that I feel that it makes the album so much better. I have waited a long time for this album and it’s definitely been worth the wait. 8.7 / 10