Slipknot Find New Beginnings at 'The End, So Far'

Slipknot Find New Beginnings at 'The End, So Far'
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It's a strange time for the Knot. It practically always is, but what's strange now — strangely enough — is the lack of inner turmoil in the Slipknot camp. Until recently, it seemed every one of the nine-headed Iowa beast's records was shrouded in tumult, including lineup changes, legal battles and an ever-uncertain future. Yet the creation process of their seventh full-length The End, So Far has been surprisingly drama-free. It begs the question: is the music still Slipknot without the chaos surrounding it? The answer, thankfully, is yes, with one small caveat: while a bit of each previous Slipknot album can be heard on The End, So Far, it also takes the now-elder statesmen of the modern metal world in some surprising new directions. 

The album's three singles offered a mixed bag of expectations. "The Chapeltown Rag," though less commercially friendly, is the strongest, a cacophonous onslaught that leaves out no Slipknot hallmark and can practically serve as a textbook example of what the band sounds like. Yet its follow-up, "The Dying Song (Time to Sing)," is sort of a watered-down version of 2019's "Unsainted." Third and final single "Yen" serves as a hint as to just how varied and experimental this entire record is, with its ethereal atmosphere and creepy-crawly instrumentation. 

While Slipknot had moved in a more guitar-based direction on recent albums, most of these new cuts are just as, if not more, heavy on the samples and sound effects that defined the band's early work. The End, So Far — while still very much a Slipknot record — features much more experimentation than more recent records, and it's refreshing to see the band refuse to slump into a formulaic process. It's clear from the jump that this is no typical Slipknot album, if there even is such a thing. Opener "Adderall" sees the band veer away from the usual noisy cuts that kick off most of their records, showing a completely new side of the band, unlike anything we've heard before. The three singles follow, before the album moves into a darker sonic territory, with "Hivemind," "Warranty," and "Medicine for the Dead" bringing crushing heaviness, chilling horror elements and catchy shout-alongs in abundance. 

One odd thing about The End, So Far, is that its singles aren't exactly among its finest cuts. While not weak, the three cuts are fairly homogeneous compared to much of the rest of the album, and didn't do the best job of showing everything The End, So Far has to offer ahead of time, though that would admittedly be a difficult task — the album is best enjoyed as a whole, as every song works better in the context of the record than any do on their own.

The record is probably the most musically diverse in Slipknot's catalogue, and something has to be said for Corey Taylor's vocals. From the arena-sized rock singing of "Heirloom," to the rapid-fire aggression of "H377" to the pain-tinged melodic delivery of "Finale," Taylor proves beyond any doubt that over 20 years with Slipknot on, he's still setting the bar for modern metal frontmen. The songs on this album aren't going to be overshadowing the classics that the band built their name on, but they'll sit nicely alongside them, and The End, So Far is a worthy addition to Slipknot's raucous arsenal.  (Roadrunner)