The return of Slipknot feels like a true event. After years of relative silence followed by a complete social media blackout, October 2014 saw them returning with a fantastic new album, .5: The Gray Chapter, ready to take back their crown of modern metal’s best. Now, after destroying America at the end of last year, their Prepare For Hell Tour has arrived in the UK, their first tour on these shores for years, and it’s to mark their British return with a bang.
Before this much awaited return, King 810 (★★★) just manage to sound as compelling as last year’s debut Memoirs Of A Murderer in the likes of Desperate Lovers‘ hulking grooves and the woozy, misanthropic Write About Us.
Korn (★★★★) step things up a few gears, bringing their deranged ’90s nu-metal headlong into 2015, most notably in the demonic scats of Twist and Freak On A Leash, and a head-caving finale of Blind.
It’s impressive stuff, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Slipknot (★★★★★), and as the doomy, funereal XIX heralds their arrival, what transpires over the next hundred minutes is some of the most twisted, raw and heavy music to have ever been recorded.
Heavy hitters drop like missiles throughout, such as The Heretic Anthem and a particularly venomous Custer, the latter especially in its biting, axe-chop refrain of “Cut, cut, cut me up / Fuck, fuck, fuck me up”. The big hits are the Slipknot equivalent of arena fodder; the three-pronged attack of Dead Memories, Before I Forget and Duality has choruses big enough to fill venues many times this size, but have enough grit and brutality to set them miles apart from others who regularly tread the arena circuit.
Aesthetic brutality is a key factor as well; their first new stage setup in nearly a decade takes the form of a hellish goat head atop a gigantic mirror, a vision of Hell aided by streams of explosions and fire throughout the likes of The Devil In I and Surfacing.
It’s hard to know where to look with so much going on – Corey Taylor stands as a commanding figure front and centre, flanked by percussionists Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan and Chris Fehn on lifting, revolving drumkits, while turntablist Sid Wilson leaps across every inch of the stage – and occasionally off it – like some manic beast. It all combines as one crucial statement – Slipknot are back with a vengeance, and the world is far better that way.