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Antennas To Hell

Roadrunner (2012)
Rating: 8/10

Slipknot = angst. Teen angst to be more precise. And like the band, I’m from Iowa too. The problem is that my anguish took place in Florida, in my mid-30s. I had it all backward. Yet akin to the changes I’ve made personally over the past two years, Slipknot’s music has obviously matured from the all-out aggression of their self-titled debut (1999) up through their most recent, All Hope Is Gone (2008). And it’s all on display in their first anthology, Antennas To Hell.

Chronologically winding through their debut, the anger of yesteryear is palpable. ‘Eyeless’ rings with the refrain of “You can’t see California without Marlon Brando’s eyes”. ‘Wait And Bleed’ proved the band had a penchant for melody, and ‘(sic)’ displayed the percussive elements that permeate the band’s catalogue.

Sophomore outing Iowa (2001) found the band truly exploding, both in the eyes of the masses and on record. ‘Disasterpiece’ and ‘People = Shit’ certainly weren’t happy-go-lucky anthems; they were the sound of disenfranchised youth the world over. ‘Left Behind’ had considerable airplay on MTV and mainstream rock charts, while also garnering the band their first Grammy nomination. Live renditions of ‘The Heretic Anthem’ and ‘Purity’ make appearances, attempting to capture the band’s live experience in an audio-only setting.

It wasn’t until the third album – appropriately titled Vol.3 (The Subliminal Verses) (2004) – that Slipknot made strides in the songwriting department. While live favourite ‘The Blister Exists’ is curiously absent, mega hit ‘Duality’ stands out as perhaps the ideal example of the band at its most accessible yet brutal. ‘Vermilion’ and ‘Before I Forget’ further the melody-meets-viciousness strived for on recent outings.

All Hope Is Gone served up ‘Psychosocial’, ‘Sulfur’ and ‘Dead Memories’. Yet it’s the haunting and sullen ballad ‘Snuff’ that has simultaneously maligned and endeared Slipknot. With heartfelt lyrics about a friendship gone awry, pushing someone to self-discovery, the track crescendos into an epically appropriate conclusion to this package.

The first release following the death of bassist Paul Gray, Antennas To Hell marks the end of a chapter. And speculation is the next era of Slipknot could be even more hellish than the first.

Chad Olson

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