I wouldn’t want you to think that I’m insinuating that all of 2001 was pop punk. There was of course the NME’s attempt to launch the next grunge with their patented New Rock Revolution™. There was The White Stripes, The Black Keys, The Vines, The D4, The Hives, The Bellrays (also alumni of The Astoria days), The Von Bondies and The Futpuckits. And I only made one of those bands up.
Skinny jeans, a leather jacket and a couple of Boss pedals were all you needed to start a band. A drummer with hair in their eyes was all you needed to get a deal. We will cover The New Rock Revolution™ tomorrow. Today we are going to talk about something truly revolutionary in rock that happened in 2001.
Slipknot released their second album Iowa. It was preceded by the single Left Behind. It’s not often you hear a band genuinely advance their genre in real time. The secret to Left Behind is the unrelenting heaviness matched with such melody. You can hum Left Behind. You can mumble “I can’t stand to see your thalidomide robot face” as you take out the trash. Almost unfortunately, the summer Slipknot rose to prominence was the prim era of Numetal. While making their debut the band were tainted a little by association at first. The masks didn’t really help them be taken seriously. Except by those who were primed for it. The type of stroppy teens who in a given previous era might have found Kiss in the 70’s, Suicidal Tendencies in the 80’s or Cradle Of Filth in the 90’s, they found Wait and Bleed and the Slipknot debut record at the dawn of the 21st century.
Iowa was different from what had gone before from the off. This record got the attention of the big beardy heavy heads too. This wasn’t “daddy issues rock”. This was sniffing dead crows in jars to throw up before doing a take. This was in line with Slayer, Machinehead, Sabbath and Metallica at their best. Left Behind does the sort of gonzo mental wall bouncing System Of A Down were also doing on Toxicity but it was heavier. Like it was being played by landsliding rock faces at the point they slip into a lava stream. That kind of vibe. It was possible to smell a copy of Iowa playing it was so heavy. It smelled like a foundry.
Now Edge-lords a plenty will argue that point and try to prove they know bands heavier than Slipknot. They’ll use names that sound like rare diseases mixed with illegal acts. They’ll call Slipknot kiddie metal and they’ll insist on some ghost face painted Norwegian church burner who recorded an album in a bucket of dead bugs as “way heavier than that mainstream pop rubbish”.
Sure, OK. If it didn’t sound like a photocopy of a fax of a tin speaker feeding back at half speed on fast forward… Whatever you need.
Slipknot works because the pop bit helps them reach kids. The same way Maiden and Metallica got me into metal. Slipknot are the gateway band fans will love for a lifetime. They slipped tasty chunks of melody all over the tub of Chunky Monkey that is Iowa. It’s best you don’t pretend that it’s not heavy. You’ll just look silly. Sillier than all those metalheads having a ball at the huge metal show that’s for sure.
Sing along if you know the words.
“We let it all slip away, we let it all slip away, we let it all slip awuuuuuuuurrrrgh”