The End, So Far

rating icon 8.5 / 10

Track listing:

01. Adderall
02. The Dying Song (Time To Sing)
03. The Chapeltown Rag
04. Yen
05. Hivemind
06. Warranty
07. Medicine For The Dead
08. Acidic
09. Heirloom
10. H377
11. De Sade
12. Finale

An enduring phenomenon like no other, SLIPKNOT can hardly avoid making albums that have maximum impact. The third album since publicly weathering the aftermath of losing bassist Paul Gray, "The End, So Far" is guaranteed to be hugely successful, irrespective of its contents. Therein lies the magic of the whole thing, because SLIPKNOT are simply incapable of sticking to even their own bloody and tattered script. After two albums that cautiously breathed new life into the band's trademark sound, with largely excellent results, their seventh full-length (scant return for over 20 years of active service, you might think, but making records as wild as this this must be exhausting)  is as unpredictable and subversive as "Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)" was back in 2004. Audibly thrilled by their own lack of musical boundaries, SLIPKNOT are firmly back in the zone.

If its skull-rattling heaviness and ululating waves of deathly riffing that you demand, "The End, So Far" is custom designed not to disappoint. "The Dying Song" and "The Chapeltown Rag" we already know: both absolute ragers with that classic SLIPKNOT stomp. The former is infernally catchy, while the latter is as ugly and wild as anything the band have released since "Iowa". Elsewhere, "Hivemind" is a tweaked-out riot of blastbeats and belligerence, with an insidious Taylor vocal wafting up from the chaos; "Warranty" is an exercise in thuggery, with some insane, psychedelic lead breaks and an epic, quasi-symphonic mid-section; "H377" is SLIPKNOT at their most myopic and militant, with Taylor's machine-gun spitting battling it out with yet more of those death-metal-gone-wrong riffs that the band have frequently smuggled into the mainstream. There was nothing much wrong with either ".5: The Gray Chapter" or "We Are Not Your Kind", but a sense that the Iowans have nudged everything up a gear or two is palpable.

But really, the most exciting thing about "The End, So Far" is how deliciously contrary it is. SLIPKNOT have always opened their albums with disorientating squalls of sound or songs with a downbeat edge, but even by their own standards, "Adderall" is a monumental curveball. A downtempo and downbeat alt-rock song with Corey Taylor in full, melodic voice, it's both disarming and bewildering. In true SLIPKNOT fashion, it makes no sense at all and, therefore, makes total sense. It also sounds absolutely nothing like STONE SOUR, just in case people are concerned about that again. Recent single "Yen" is another dark detour. With faint echoes of "Vermilion" from "Vol.3", it's a refined take on the slow-motion slurry that provided SLIPKNOT's early albums with their most uncommercial moments. When the chorus hits, it hurts; Taylor's versatility on full display, as his eight bandmates whip up a cyclone of tension.

Similarly, "Medicine For The Dead" is all woozy, juddering sludge, augmented with a gothic sheen, bleak industrial trimmings and another skewed and ingenious Taylor melody. Most startling of all, the closing "Finale" begins as a serene ballad, rich with elegant strings, before shadows creep in and the peace is shattered by the sound of thunder. A grinding, foul-hearted anti-ballad with a killer chorus and a beautifully perverse arrangement that pairs an angelic choir and mournful piano with a curious haze of fizzing static, it certainly couldn't be the work of anyone else. SLIPKNOT are still evolving, still furious, and still an undeniable, unstoppable phenomenon.

Author: Dom Lawson
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