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The NMA Roundtable: Slipknot's Evolution?

The Nu Metal Agenda editors convene to talk about the latest in Slipknot happenings; from the Adderall EP to the Slipknot merch store.

Holiday Kirk: This is Holiday Kirk, with a Nu Metal Agenda Roundtable. We are convening today with myself, Riviera, BaniBoi, Terra, and Hemotype to try and understand and untangle the past few days of Slipknot happenings. How long has it been?

Riviera: I think a week is a good cut-off for it.

Holiday Kirk: This all kicked off with me dissing Corey Taylor's album.

Riviera: Correct. You started this.

Holiday Kirk: I think that was the first domino to go.

So it formally kicked off on the 7th with Craig Jones’ dismissal from the band, which then became a deleted post about Craig's dismissal, which then became an announcement of a new person in the band. Am I missing something?

Riviera: Here's the thing, it actually started on the 6th when Jay revealed a new mask. That was the first Slipknot "evolve” post.

Holiday Kirk: Oh yeah, you're right. So the new mask, Craig's out, the new guy is in. The new guy has what seems to be a pretty cool mask, everyone seems to like it. Do we know who that is?

Riviera: Not that I've been able to find, no.

Holiday Kirk: So the new guy is in, then it became new music, the Adderall EP which was the opening track off of their last album The End, So Far, and included a couple of remixes and an instrumental. And that's it. How does everyone feel about the EP?

Riviera: I think it's lazy. I think it's really lazy. The first "new" track, “Death March” is just the intro from “Adderall”-

Holiday Kirk: It doesn't help that it's called "Death March" either. That's the ultimate “this is not about to be a good time.”

Riviera: And it's weird – when they teased the new guys' mask, they also launched a page where you could watch a video for “Death March.” That version is twice as long because there's this little reversed bit of "Adderall" at the end, which I think is better, but on the EP, it's just the minute-long intro followed immediately by the studio version with no intro, the demo, and then an instrumental, which has no changes to the arrangement, they just cut out the vocals.

Holiday Kirk: It's kind of a funny throwback to when you would put out an official CD or cassette single in stores and it would be mostly like this. I'm looking at the “Wait and Bleed” single from 2000 which opens with the “Wait and Bleed (Terry Date Mix)” then the “Spit It Out” remix, a remix of “(sic),” and a live version of “Wait and Bleed.” MUCH better songs to be sure, but that's kind of the vibe when you would purchase a single. Now, we're in a different situation where this doesn't feel quite as big as it should be, especially if you're going to tease the death of the band – with the “Death March” and the heads blowing up in your promo video. It feels like we should have got more if you're gonna go that dramatic with it. What does everyone else think about it though?

BaniBoi: My initial thought on that is that I didn't take it as the death of the band because the way that Slipknot utilizes death is varied. A lot of the time “death” to Slipknot means a whole new beginning. That's what it represented to me in the music video for “Death March.” The way they teased it felt like a throwback – that pose that they did with the dolls reminded me a lot of an old Slipknot photo where they were all sitting down together. I think that was to symbolize the death of the old Slipknot; in with the new. That's my interpretation.

Holiday Kirk: That makes a lot of sense to me since the EP itself sounds- I mean they picked the least slipknot-y song off of The End, So Far to expand upon for an EP. That's actually what I liked about it, it at least sounded like they were doing something that they were interested in rather than chasing what people think they should sound like. I was generally pretty positive about the EP. I'll never listen to it again, but on my one time through I thought “Okay, this sounds like Radiohead.” Wouldn't have counted on that, but if it floats their boat, at least it doesn't sound like they're trying to recycle the same idea again. They're trying something new.

Terra Eyes: I'm more critical of it. I'm not so much worried about them going in a different direction. I'm a huge defender of Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses – “Circle” and “Vermilion Pt. 2” are some of my favorite songs of all time –  so I'm not saying Slipknot has to be heavy. The problem I have with it is that even when Slipknot goes slow, there's a specific sound they have that's more polished, more crisp, and more professional. This just seems like everyone got together and jammed something out because they wanted a release. It would be great for a debut, it'd be a great first project.

Holiday Kirk: You think they got together? It didn't sound to me like much new music was made.

Riviera: Everyone is reporting that “Death March” is a new single. That's odd, right? It is just the “Adderall” intro. There is not a beat changed, it's just cropped differently.

Hemotype: That's one thing that kind of bothers me. They literally took the track, divided it into two, added in an instrumental, and put it out as an EP. That's pretty much it.

Holiday Kirk: I think this betrays a certain amount of insecurity on their part. They really want to make a clean break from the Roadrunner years and from the early days, but they're not sure how to do that. They only have so many different types of songs they know how to make, so this is them pushing it at what they think represents a clean break for them, but they can't disentangle themselves from the Slipknot machine. They have to continue playing some sort of game.

Riviera: This is on Roadrunner.

Holiday Kirk: What'd you say?

Riviera: This is on Roadrunner, right?

Holiday Kirk: To the internet! Let's see. Is it? Good question, good question.

So since this is still on Roadrunner, are they just desperately trying to get themselves off of the label? Because that's what I remembered the excuse being for The End, So Far- it's their last Roadrunner release, they just want to get finished with the contract and start something on their own. I don't know if this is like Roadrunner going “uh uh uh, not yet” but it's a very compelling theory due to how little new material there is here.

BaniBoi: I also wanna point out that in an article from Juxtapoz, it’s said that "Adderall" is a very personal song for Clown and maybe that's kind of why the band, especially Corey, reacted in the way they did. When it comes to songs that they want to do differently, it's never just for the sake of trying to do something different. It's supposed to represent a different emotion for the band that they really want to tackle. So that would kind of explain why.

Terra Eyes: I'm kind of sympathetic to them because I feel like they're trying to show “Hey, this is different. We can do different things. We're not just a heavy band who sometimes makes a slow song. Let's try to make a whole thing out of just slow instrumental ethereal tracks.” It just doesn't work for me. Personally.

Riviera: Well, I think you would have to make more than one-

Holiday Kirk: One song and then chop it up a couple times.

What endears me to the EP to a very limited extent is that I think they really do like the song “Adderall” and they want to make more songs like it. I appreciate them letting their fanbase down on their own terms instead of putting out another aggressive, heavy song so that everyone can be disappointed in their own way. Instead to say, “All right, here's this song. You don't have to like it, but we like it,” there's something to that. It's not enough, but it's kind of what I'm looking for.

The other thing I would want from them is to shut down their online store, but that seems like a stretch.

BaniBoi: I just wanna say that there's a cut on there that's like a rough demo, which I think is a marginally better version of "Adderall."

I mentioned before that it was very reminiscent of Nine Inch Nails when they get into their more experimental bag. I think if they wanted to smoothly transition into slower stuff, they should have slowly transitioned from the darker electronic stuff into what "Adderall" is now in the official album. That way it wouldn’t seem like as awkward of a transition.

Plus, I will say if you add the bassline from the official version into the demo, I think it would've been perfect and would've really fed into the Bowie-esc atmosphere and vocals that Corey was going for.

Holiday Kirk: Good observations. Good observations. Terra, do you have any thoughts here?

Terra Eyes: The biggest problem I'm having right now is that, again, I don't mind that they're going in a different direction. I don't mind that they're changing it up. It's great if it weren't for a band who had been doing this for 30 years. As Riviera said, it's lazy. It feels like they're just putting stuff out when they could have at least made something interesting. It would be a serviceable first debut, but I don't feel good about where Slipknot's going from here.

Holiday Kirk: I just saw this go through my feed which seems to be-

Readers, friends, and family alike, we've got new merch! We got new long sleeves, t-shirts – oh boy, this is my problem with this band – tote bags, cooler, drink sleeves, bucket hat, swim trunks, grinder, rolling tray-

Look at all this merch.

Riviera: It looks bad.

Holiday Kirk: I hate how dense their store is. It's just too much, man. you can't farm out your brand to this extent. It's like Slipknot just exists as a front for a department store.

Riviera: It’s like they're trying to recreate the old Hot Topic single-handedly.

Holiday Kirk: It doesn't do it for me. And I think that all of my generosity about the EP and what the EP might be feels a little weak now that I know it's getting bundled up with a merch drop.

Holiday Kirk: We are gonna wrap this up, but, come what may, the new Slipknot era appears to be upon us. Whatever disappointments we may have, I think I could speak on behalf of the editorial staff that we hold Slipknot to such a high standard. That's really all it is.

We're not haters, we're lovers. We love Slipknot and we want the best for them. So stick around, we'll be there to cover whatever comes next after this.