Release Date: August 26, 2008
Reviewed by Evelyn Miska

Slipknot is a perfect example of not judging a band by the way they look. Sure, the stage aliases giving each member of the band a number, zero through eight, the grotesque Halloween-like masks along with the industrial jumpsuits make it pretty clear that what you’re about to hear will not be pop-rock. However, one could also easily make the mistake of thinking that Slipknot is little more than overdone drumming, lyrics screamed to the point of shredding vocal chords and nothing in the way of melody or tone. Slipknot has now been around long enough that they’ve proved their abilities to fans, critics and the music industry. So, with all that taken care of, what does a band do for their fifth studio album?

All Hope Is Gone begins pretty much how one would expect a Slipknot album to begin. A short intro piece, “.execute,” begins to build the momentum for “Gematria (The Killing Name).” “Gematria” is heavy on the yelled vocals, frantic drumming and intense guitar riffs. Not once in the song does the band let up their frenzied pace and this continues throughout much of the following track, “Sulfur,” as well. However, the band does let up somewhat during the surprisingly melodic moments on “Sulfur,” which actually can help listeners pace themselves and show a slightly different side to Slipknot.

Much of All Hope Is Gone follows this pattern. Periods of extreme intensity, both vocally and instrumentally, followed by startlingly lighter sections. “Psychosocial” and “Dead Memories” are perfect examples of this. Vocalist Corey Taylor proves he can do more than simply scream lyrics, though on some tracks such as “Dead Memories” the lighter sections tend to take over a little and it’s difficult to say what long-term Slipknot fans will think of this.

“Gehenna” changes things somewhat with a slow and creepy intro as Taylor practically croons lyrics over the gradually undulating melody. However, the song never builds to much of a climax and the length reaching almost seven minutes feels a bit beleaguered. The only real glitch on the album is “Snuff,” a track that comes far too close to a ballad to fit with the image and style that Slipknot has created. Unless listeners are fans of mediocre rock ballads, this will not be a track worth spending much time listening to.

As they’ve gotten further along in their career, Slipknot has become more polished and seems to have a better idea of how to put together a strong collection of songs. However, sometimes too much polish is a bad thing and All Hope Is Gone occasionally veers a little too close in this direction. While some listeners with preconceived notions of what the band is will be surprised by All Hope Is Gone, long-time fans might be a little disappointed with some of the sentiment that appears to be seeping out from under the carnival masks.

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