When Iowa’s own Slipknot arrived on the heavy rock scene near the end of the last century, they came with a mighty arsenal of sensational metal anthems and a searingly uncompromising attitude that gathered fans as quickly as it did detractors.
The group’s theatrically brutal sound meant they were a dream come true for angsty teens who first picked up the band and held them to their hearts. From there, they went on to become one of the biggest bands in the 21st century.
The band’s self-titled release in 1999 may have grabbed the attention of the whole world, but the group were working hard from years before they received their deserved acclaim. With their success confirmed, the band did what any great artist does; they pushed themselves further.
Since that moment, Slipknot has forced themselves creatively and artistically to create a back catalogue that shines as brightly as their act disturbed the suburbs. Behind the masks, Slipknot has always been a family band and, with every family, there have been some tumultuous times too.
Below, we’re revisiting a catalogue of albums that prove Slipknot is one of the greatest metal bands of all time.
Ranking every Slipknot album:
7. Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. (1996)
When Slipknot released their debut album Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. on Halloween in 1996, they were keen to make a statement about their brand new horror-adjacent metal sounds. However, where the concept may have been on-point, musically the record lacks the panache of the platinum-selling artists they would be.
Most Slipknot fans wouldn’t even call the album a full-release, often citing it more accurately as a demo. But the album still has some valuable moments, despite only sharing one member with the Slipknot we know and love today, Shawn “Clown” Crahan.
That said, ‘Gently’ is likely the best thing on the album and that’s not saying too much.
6. .5 – The Gray Chapter (2014)
For a band who championed creativity and experimentation at the top of everything they did, .5 – The Gray Chapter sees Slipknot fall back on their swords. Instead of pushing forward with a new sound or direction, Slipknot finds themselves in the middle of a comparative musical mess.
That’s not to say that the album is bad, in any specific way, but the record does feel a little on the dull side in comparison to the rest of the records in this list. 2014 may have been a tough period for the band with Joey Jordison leaving and the album feels a little lost because of it.
5. All Hope Is Gone (2008)
Released in 2008, Slipknot were clearly seeing their new melancholic angle as an essential stepping stone to continued artistic development. The album reeks of it. In fact, the record is best summed up by the title song which is a sinister and rampant number—but there is one thing missing.
Perhaps, we should more accurately say, there’s something that’s been added. The album has been given a big money production polish and, because of it, the LP lacks a little bit of the frightening intensity Slipknot had always put into their work.
4. We Are Not Your Kind (2019)
Maggots across the globe waited nearly five years for a new Slipknot album before We Are Not Your Kind arrived in 2019. The band’s latest effort is a stark lesson in how to make metal music in the 21st century. Our aforementioned Clown friend, Crahan himself, called the album a “masterpiece” and it’s hard not to see this as the moment Slipknot confirmed their hall of fame status.
Buzzsaw riffs and the kind of sonic exploration any metal fan worth their salt would now expect from their leading bands meant this album quickly became a fan favourite. As most records tend to mature with time, we expect this LP may become the ultimate cult classic sooner or later.
3. Vol 3. The Subliminal Verses (2004)
As a band, making the follow-up to one of your greatest albums can feel like a losing battle. After so much was given to the previous record, to follow it up with another hard-hitting relentless metal masterpiece can be a stretch. Luckily, Slipknot isn’t like many bands.
Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) acts as the ultimate entry point for anyone unsure about Slipknot. Not only is the record packed full of songs like ‘The Blister Exists’, ‘Three Nil’ and countless others. But it was produced by Rick Rubin and is undoubtedly enhanced by that fact.
It’s the moment Slipknot evolved into a modern metal machine, providing music which didn’t just blur the lines of commercial credibility but tore them up, spat on them and threw them out the window.
2. Slipknot (1999)
It all had to start somewhere and for many Slipknot fans, it started here. In 1999, there was simply nobody like Slipknot. The band arrived with a steadfast gimmick in the masks and an unfathomable amount of talent behind them. It was all well and good to grab the attention of the nation, it’s a relatively easy feat to achieve, but doing something with it is how you define yourself as a band.
It’s clear that Slipknot were well aware of that. After seeing some success from songs like ‘Wait and Bleed’ the band capitalised and delivered one of the most energising metal albums fans had heard in years, if not decades.
With a new core sound built around Corey Taylor’s impressive vocals, Slipknot began to hone their sonic exploration and tighten up the looser moments of their full-length debut. What transpired is one of the most complete metal records you’ll ever hear. From conception to delivery, everything was unadulterated, unique and undoubtedly brilliant.
1. Iowa (2001)
Of course, the ultimate Slipknot album would have to be 2001’s seminal record Iowa. There isn’t much that hasn’t already been said about this game-changing album. The group’s success from 1999’s self-titled album had seen the band fall foul of the usual rock star tropes.
Drink, drugs, experiments and ego had all driven the group to breaking point and they arrived in Los Angeles to record the album at each other’s throats. But while some bands would capitulate under such pressure, Slipknot rallied and delivered a career-defining record.
As the reality of a new century when nothing much has changed began to dawn on America and beyond, Slipknot’s position as the nihilist’s choice for doom was cemented by this industrialised trip to the end of the world. The album is full of ravenous songs but its real pleasure can be found in the complete listening of the entire LP.