SLIPKNOT are one of the biggest metal bands, but in a genre such as this, that doesn't guarantee playing the largest venues. On February 5th, 2009, Corey Taylor and the band did just that, headlining one of the world's most famous arenas: Madison Square Garden. The show came following the band's first No. 1 album in the United States, 2008's "All Hope Is Gone".
Now, SLIPKNOT are coming up on "All Hope Is Gone"'s 15th anniversary. To mark the occasion, the band is releasing their Madison Square Garden live set, "Live at MSG", on vinyl. In addition to the audio, this limited-edition vinyl set features new art by the band's M. Shawn "Clown" Crahan. The band also hand-selected the custom-colored vinyl for the release.
Seeing that the Madison Square Garden show took place during SLIPKNOT's "All Hope Is Gone" album cycle, the setlist is heavy on cuts off that release. Of course, the band also sprinkles in tracks spanning their career through to 2009. Slipknot begin the show with the classic "(sic)" off their self-titled Roadrunner Records debut, which also marked the band's first release with Corey Taylor in the fold. Previously, they had released a debut demo / album called "Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat." with vocalist Anders Colsefni.
"(sic)" starts with nearly 30 seconds of crowd cheering and noises before the drums kick in and SLIPKNOT's feracious live show beings. One of the challenges of a concert recording is capturing the live energy of the actual show with a good enough sound quality to make the listener feel like they're actually there. The production quality of "Live at MSG" accomplishes that: It draws the listener in, with that just-right balance of crowd energy and live music emulating the live experience.
Sound quality wise, the only criticism is that Taylor's vocals are a bit buried, which is typical of live albums (and shows, for that matter). On some songs, however, especially the more melodic ones, his vocals really power through, such as in "Dead Memories" and "Purity". "Dead Memories" is a highlight, offering a much-needed turned-back break from the brutal, unforgiving aggression of a SLIPKNOT show.
Some of the best and most engaging moments of the album happen when the crowd chimes in to sing along or in response to Taylor. One of those moments is when the crowd lends their voices to the word "nothing!" in "Eyeglass", as Taylor chants, "He's a phantom, a mystery, and that leaves me nothing!" They also round out his lyrics in "Left Behind", with the words, "I come toward you!" Moments like these happen throughout the set, showing the interactive nature of a SLIPKNOT show.
SLIPKNOT built their career on their pummeling live shows, and "Live at MSG" captures it in a near-perfect manner. The vinyl component should be a welcome addition to the hardcore SLIPKNOT fan's music collection.