2. People=Sh*t *
4. My Plague *
5. Everything Ends
6. The Heretic Anthem *
8. Left Behind
9. The Shape
10. I Am Hated
11. Skin Ticket ^
12. New Abortion
Des Moine hell-raisers Slipknot followed up their acclaimed 1999 self-titled debut album in 2001 with the aptly titled “Iowa.” Whereas the first album was nu metal to the extreme, incorporating elements of industrial, rap and hip-hop to the stentorian blare of Slayer, “Iowa” drops most of these third-party elements and delves into darker, heavier, and more traditional metal territories. Music critics and fans alike were all for the band’s quasi-nu direction.
Which is why I am a bit afraid to say that I did not fully connect with the album. Don’t get me wrong; I like a few songs. But these songs are what make weaker and less memorable songs all the more distinguished. Every moment counts in regard to music, and a nice portion of the time simply felt like dead space to me. To make situations more disappointing, I am a huge fan of the band’s debut album. It is one of my favorite albums of the last fifteen years. “Iowa” is a small misstep in an otherwise unscathed discography.
For the sake of optimism, let us start with the good. Right from the beginning, the listener is smacked in the face with the aggressively hostile “People=Sh*t.” The track includes some of the heaviest (and likely the best) riffs found on the whole album along with the most violent lyrical content (and THAT is saying something). Then comes “Disasterpiece,” which includes an outstanding drum performance by Joey Jordison that ranks among his best to date (and THAT too is saying something). “The Shape” and “Left Behind” are gloomy, brooding number that are not too shabby, while “The Heretic Anthem” is a breakneck metal song that lashes out at the world’s perception of what being a celebrity is about. “My Plague,” one of my favorites, is a percussion-driven impetus that also works at applying a groove to the music.
But then there are just songs that shock me by how little they appeal to me considering they are from Slipknot. “New Abortion” is an awkward industrial metal song that, in the end, sounds like one of Korn’s lesser songs. “Skin Ticket” is a surprisingly boring and meaningless composition that lasts much longer than it should. Then there is “Gently,” a slow, lingering track that gives you the impression that it will build up to something special (*SPOILER* it doesn’t, and instead switches to a highly out-of-place riff). Finally, the 15-minute finale “Iowa” could have probably gone somewhere if there were more than just one riff throughout the whole thing. The fact that the exact same bass line plays over and over again for a quarter hour is unreasonably monotonous and underwhelming.
I am in the minority of people when I say that “Iowa” is my least favorite Slipknot album to date. I know that. I will probably receive a ton of flack for that. But as far as I can tell, the album is just blind intensity. Only a handful of songs have stuck around with me, the riffs leave more to be desired, and the song arrangements are not as cool or clean as they once were. Even Jordison’s drum expertise seems to lose its edge before too long. All I can say is thank goodness the band’s other experimental endeavors later on were successful, because my attention might have subsided otherwise.