Slipknot, "Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) (Special Edition)
-Album cover courtesy of Roadrunner Records-
The gloves are off, but the masks are still on! As far a rock 'n' roll is concerned, Slipknot is in a class of its own. This Iowan metal band may have learned from classic metal bands, but all in all, it sounds like none of them. The fury within Slipknot's music is an originality that most metal bands hope to achieve, and comparatively, Slipknot still holds the candle.
Characterizing a band is difficult when the members' b-rate horror-movie masks and costumes make it hard to take them seriously, but through years of touring the world and scaring the living crap out of parents, Slipknot has never had calm to appreciate its storm until now. Perhaps listeners in the past have been turned away from Slipknot's violent music, because their previous albums were extremely heavy. The band's new music is still hellish, but there's a surprising movement captured on this new release. Anyways, the band's name still says it all.
The nine members are disorderly and disastrous, but because they collectively share ill tempers, they play well together. "Pulse of the Maggots" is a song that can start a revolution or a riot – depending on the listener – because the scream of a large crowd is used as percussion throughout the entire song, resulting in anathematic heaviness.
"Opium of the People" is a progressive attack fueled by dueling guitars that take impatient turns chewing on your ear in the fashion of Mike Tyson. Slipknot is most easily described as a percussion band. The drumming is a machine-gun standoff and even a keg is used as percussion at times. The guitars in this band are part of a two-headed monster with big, sharp, pointy teeth that terrorizes its way through chunky riffs into screeching solos carried by devilish wings. The solos are as insane as Eddie Van Halen's classic "Eruption" and sound like evil notes traveling at light speeds.
Don't get the impression that a band of misanthropes is incapable of being sensitive though; there is plenty of beauty on this album. What? Slipknot has a sensitive side? The vocal harmonies in between the growls seem to be reminiscent of the way that Alice in Chains' Jerry Cantrell and the late, great Layne Staley were able to make their voices mellifluous.
On the acoustic songs, "Vermillion Pt. 2," "Circle" and "Danger – Keep Away," singer Corey Taylor does a terrific job lacing his harmonious skill with lots of emotion. The song "Vermillion Pt. 2" is a truly haunting love song. With the somber minor notes, the song sounds like what Edgar Allan Poe or Vincent Price might do if they were rock stars: "She means everything to me/she's a myth that I have to believe in/all I need to make her real is one more reason."
"The Nameless" is a peculiar song that starts out all fire and brimstone and then slows into a melodic halt, bringing forth finger-picked acoustic guitars and all that sensitive stuff.
Although this album was released last year, this special edition of "Vol. 3" is an upgraded version. This new release contains two discs and has four live tracks and three new songs. And keep in mind one very huge deal on "Vol. 3": his name is Rick Rubin. Rubin, for those who don't know him, is an incredible producer who has moved in and out of work with the likes of Jay Z and Johnny Cash. So hey, Slipknot has that going for it. Perhaps the ideals of Slipknot can be easiest described in the way Corey Taylor invites the audience into a song on one of the live tracks when he says: "We are here to destroy you!" Well, isn't that nice?
Garbage, "Bleed Like Me"
Album cover courtesy of Geffen Records
Wait, wasn't Garbage big in the '90s? Shirley Manson and the guys are back with a new album and some new perspectives in their careers. Manson as a front lady (that's Shirley Manson, not Marilyn or Charles, just thought you should be clear) has not lost her energy and still sounds nice and sweetly sinister.
If you have seen pictures of Manson lately, that little broken-winged-bird crush that you had on her when she was in that rainy music video will return to you tenfold, because she is one fiery little Scottish export! (OK, never mind that, back to the music.)
On Queens of the Stoned Age's latest release, "Lullabies To Paralyze," Manson made a vague and almost inaudible appearance on a bluesy song, but in all attempts to satisfy her fans, Garbage has a bunch of raw rock songs on "Bleed Like Me."
Garbage has always had a bad name, but the members have also always had a particular sound. The guitars and drums are aggressive and sloppy, and the music has this atmosphere that is coated with elements of gothic rhythm and ambient flow that are both complements of Manson's voice and lyrics. For a band that has been around for a long time, Garbage sound more youthful on this album than anything Garbage ever done in the past. "Bleed Like Me" sounds like it had been recorded in a garage, and that kind of rawness is a good thing in rock music.
The album opens with "Bad Boyfriend," a Heart-esque rocker with Dave "The Man" Grohl helping out on the drums, and following that is a pop song called "Run Baby Run," that has a sad yet anxious energy to it which will probably make it a hit in the future. "Why Do You Love Me?" has a retro, punk sound with lyrics that admit to self-consciousness and to being conscious of a crumbling relationship.
The song "Boys Wanna' Fight" is a hardcore female anthem with plenty of testosterone-induced vomiting and sounds off on male irrationality. The title pretty much says what the song "Sex Is Not The Enemy" is about, providing a punked-out anthem for the sex revolution, sort of this generation's version of "make love, not war."
The title track, "Bleed Like Me," is a melody of different people's miseries and a story of their scars: "Avalanche is sullen and too thin/she starves herself to rid herself of sin/the kick so divine/when she sees bones beneath her skin." The album loses its energy toward the end, and not to dog on the other band members, but the music only makes it with the help of Manson's vocals.
Shirley Manson proves that she has the wheel in Garbage's travels, and it is always cool to see a woman in charge of a rock 'n' roll band. Her vixen style, with her seductive and wooing vocals, is complemented by the social, personal and political commentary in her lyrics. She has no restraints in declaring that she is happier in the rain and enjoys being optimistic in the most bitter of ways.