Slipknot continue to be the biggest story in metal this month, with the release of their long, long, long-awaited fifth album finally arriving after teaser trailers, press releases, and general pre-release dickery. ‘.5: The Grey Chapter’ has pounced into charts all over the world, with the seven-piece grabbing the top spot in their homeland, and barging their way to a number two placing here in the UK.
While the album will inevitably tumble back down to the lower reaches of the chart next week, it bodes well for their recently announced but almost-entirely-sold-out-already 2015 arena tour of the UK. Interestingly enough, main support on the tour comes from nu-metal survivors (and former titans of the genre), KoRn. Slipknot’s notoriously mouthy frontman, Corey Taylor, took every opportunity to bad-mouth the Californians during Slipknot’s first full UK tour way back in 2000. How things have changed.
The album itself feels like a firming up of the legacy Slipknot have been building around themselves ever since it became clear that they are probably the only true metal superstars following up Iron Maiden and Metallica. At times this drive towards self-mythologising has them flapping a little petulantly (in particular during what many fans feel are Taylor’s lyrical jabs at former bandmate, Joey Jordison) or drifting into the uncharacteristically sentimental (as they do in ‘Skeptic’, which many have speculated is about deceased bandmate Paul Gray).
For the most part though, fans and critics alike have been sighing with relief that this album isn’t a wet fizzle following the drama that accompanied its creation. No matter what your take is on the gossip surrounding ‘.5: The Grey Chapter’, nobody can deny it’s undeniably the kind of record that only Slipknot could make.
Joining Slipknot in metal’s small club of arena-botherers very soon will be Bring Me The Horizon, the Sheffield band (pictured) set to hit large venues up and down the UK throughout December. To coincide with their live activity, they’ve released their first new material since 2013’s ‘Sempiternal’ album. First was the radio-friendly melodicism of ‘Drown’ (watch it above), and then very recently came the significantly more electronically inclined (and Christopher Nolan Batman quoting) ‘Don’t Look Down’, a collaboration with Foreign Beggars’ Orifice Vulgatron.
While the direction the band is taking with these new songs should come as no surprise to anyone who’s paid even the scantest attention to BMTH’s move from Just Another Deathcore Band to legit post-Tumblrcore titans, the five-piece’s evolution from the kind of band your mother always warned you about (http://www.blabbermouth.net/news/bring-me-the-horizon-vocalist-accused-of-urinating-on-fan/) to genuine mainstays of the daytime Radio 1 playlist shows that perhaps those yearly catcalls from certain quarters of the rock press for bands like BMTH to get a Mercury nod aren’t so misplaced after all.
Also releasing new material this month were Bristol’s best-kept semi-secret, Turbowolf. ‘Rabbit’s Foot’ (video below) is the second song they’ve snuck out from their second album ‘Two Hands’, tentatively slated for an April release next year. Midway through a tour in support of Royal Blood, the band also shares their tourmates’ producer, with Tom Dalgety taking co-producer duties behind the desk for this one. It’s stuffed to the guts with Turbowolf’s distinctive rubber-buzzsaw riffs and Technicolour stomp, boding well for a strong showing next year from one of the UK’s most unappreciated rock bands.
Godflesh released their first new album in 13 years the other week, ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’ (review). While the pairing of Justin Broadrick and GC Green hasn’t exactly been keeping quiet since Godflesh formally reformed four years ago (and Broadrick’s keeping himself occupied with Jesu, too), there were understandable fears new material from one of the pioneers of industrial music would fail to live up to their illustrious reputation. The world needn’t have feared though, as ‘A World Lit Only By Fire’ almost shrugs its shoulders at the very idea of disassembly or dismissive critique – it is simply Godflesh, and it doesn’t care whether you want to be friends with it or not.
On the nastier end of things, Anaal Nathrakh continued to press further into the kind of firmament behind every form of extreme metal going with their new record ‘Desideratum’. Also consolidating their position as underground titans are Today Is The Day, whose superb new record ‘Animal Mother’ ably dispels tired old notions that bands run out of creative juice after a few albums. Ten albums in and TITD are still untouchable when it comes to hammering disparate elements from black, death, noise, and any-other-sub-genre-you-care-to-name into one big, venomous whole.
It’s not just the old guard with big things to say this month. Smaller in size but never in volume are Obliterations, even if their membership boasts current and former members of Saviours, Night Horse and Black Mountain (among others). Like Poison Idea if they were squashed through Converge guitarist/production maestro Kurt Ballou’s GodCity Studio, ‘Poison Everything’ is a majestic roar built from 13 short, sharp metal-punk barks.
Taking an opposite position are fellow newcomers OHHMS who kicked off October with the release on Holy Roar of their 32-minute, two-track EP ‘Bloom’, a mesmerising blend of measured ambience and heart-pounding riff-crush. It’s still early days for the five-piece but they’re already getting Ones To Watch nods from people across the heavy music spectrum.
Treading a similar path are Japanese iconoclasts Mono, who released two albums on the same day this month. ‘The Last Dawn’ and ‘Rays Of Darkness’ (review) have allowed Takaakira Goto et al to decompress their mammoth range, giving opportunities for the many facets of their unique take on post-rock/metal to shine individually. What we get are records of noticeable extremes – ‘The Last Dawn’ exemplifying the impact musical delicacy can have in the genre, while ‘Rays Of Darkness’ ventures as far as the harshest black metal sounds have trodden.
Also on a double-album kick this month was Canadian experimentalist Devin Townsend. The workaholic is once again tugging himself in even more directions than seems advisable with ‘Z2’, the first half of which (‘Sky Blue’) sees Townsend explore the more inorganic and programmed aspects of his pick-and-mix style, whereas the second half (‘Dark Matter’) sees him return to his Ziltoid The Omniscient alter-ego, a megalomaniacal space alien used in the past to project his more… characterful musical urges.
Look, this shit makes sense if you embrace it. Trust me on this one.
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Words: Hugh Platt
Hugh is deputy editor of Thrash Hits, which is a site we like very much, and you can too: here.