Review: Slipknot @ FlyDSA Arena

In a world gone mad, it’s somewhat fitting that we have Slipknot in the form of their lives to soundtrack our impending doom. The only thing more impressive than the eighteen-legged metal megastars’ puncturing of the mainstream on the eve of the 21st century has been their ability to keep themselves there for over twenty years. And this ain’t lounge jazz. Since day one, the Iowans’ modus operandi has been to push the boundaries of heavy music with stadium-slaying riffs, pummelling blast beats and tonsil-tearing screams. Their career often more of a punishing endurance test, hence the band members’ various side projects and alternate creative endeavours. A chance to regroup and recharge.

They’ve had their fair share of emotional tests as well. Slipknot’s very music is born of social isolation, suffering and loss. All of which the band has endured in abundance in recent years – perfect fuel for their much-loved anthems of anger and disillusionment. The death of Paul Gray – founder and original bassist – in 2010 shook the band to its core, and for a while looked to spell the end for Slipknot. The acrimonious departure of drummer Joey Jordison in 2013 didn’t help matters either. So if 2014’s unsure comeback album, The Gray Chapter, was the band finding its feet again, last year’s extraordinary We Are Not Your Kind was Slipknot reclaiming their throne in style.

Five years have passed since the Iowans last came to lay waste to the Sheffield Arena, and before the masked men even play a note, the floor mutates into a sea of swaying bodies. When opener Unsainted erupts, the safety staff can barely contain the limbs being hurled over the barrier. Also taken from WANYK, Nero Forte is already a crowd favourite, with its swirling Jim Root riffs and frenzied vocals. Before I Forget sends the assembled Maggots potty, while next new cut Solway Firth is one of the nonet’s greatest works to date. Its crushing dynamics underpinned with gloomy pangs of turmoil and darkness.

A large part of Slipknot’s allure is their ability to marry the band’s music with their proclivity for horror and theatricality. Costumes aside, the stage set looks like a dystopian Mad Max-Texas Chainsaw Massacre hybrid – rusted metal, industrial fans and bleak aesthetics fill every corner. Outrageously talented drummer Jay Weinberg deserves a special mention for his percussive exploits. His ferocious, pinpoint playing can only be described as controlled chaos. Speaking of which, you can’t accuse the ‘Knot of skimping when it comes to the pyro. We’re treated to almost constant explosions, bangs and flame throwing guitars for the best part of two hours. But even then, it’s still their inimitable brand of razor sharp, metallic rage that proves most captivating.

Recently remarried, frontman Corey Taylor looks revitalised in more ways than one, as he roars his way through All Out Life like some sort of heavy metal clergyman. Although his services are barely required during Duality, as a delirious crowd bellows every word in unison with little persuasion. The brutal encore salvo of People = Shit and Surfacing leaves the Sheffield crowd with a thrilling reminder of the band’s raw, visceral power. Given the sheer intensity of their craft, Slipknot have often admitted that they can’t go on forever. But as long as these nine men are firing on all cylinders like tonight, metal shows don’t come much better. Miss Knotfest UK in August at your peril.

Words: Chris Lord
Photography: Anthony Scanga

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