The tragic loss of founding Slipknot member and former drummer Joey ‘#1‘ Jordison is felt by the band’s fans across the globe. In the wake of this terrible news, there has been an outpouring of condolences shared by fans and peers alike — with the two not mutually exclusive. Slipknot is one the most iconic bands of the last 25 years, and until Jordison departed in 2013, he was an integral and unmistakable part of their sound.
When they burst onto the scene in the late 1990s, the masked Des Moines motley crew blended metal, electronic, hardcore and everything in between to blow fans away with their sound and hail the dawn of the new millennium. Shock-rock at its core, Slipknot‘s early nihilism blew people away and offended in equal parts.
It is a testament to Jordison’s legacy that so many people from different walks of life and disparate fields of music are inspired by him. If you were to ask any drummer, they would likely cite him as influence or at least heed his visceral brilliance. His enduring legacy is also compounded by the fact that just as many electronic producers would cite him as an influence on their rhythm building process. Jordison was a master of the double kick, breakbeat, and blastbeat. His demonic speed and stamina made it seem as if Lucifer himself had possessed the diminutive percussionist.
Jordison played on all of Slipknot‘s output until his departure in 2013. The period up until he left is the band’s most seminal moment featuring the classic lineup. He won a Grammy with the group for best metal performance in 2005, for ‘Before I Forget’.
When he left the band, the reasons were typically opaque. Slipknot announced: “It is with great pain but quiet respect that for personal reasons Joey Jordison and Slipknot are parting ways.” Not long after, in 2014, Jordison alleged that he had been kicked out and felt “shocked and blindsided” by it.
Regardless, not long after, the fog cleared, and the true reasons for his departure were made clear. Jordison revealed that he had been diagnosed with transverse myelitis, a degenerative nerve disease, which sadly affected his playing. In 2016 he said: “I lost my legs. I couldn’t play anymore. It was a form of multiple sclerosis, which I don’t wish on my worst enemy.”
In what now is a tragic statement, he continued: “I got myself back up, and I got myself in the gym, and I got myself back in therapy to beat this … If I can do it, you can do it. To people with multiple sclerosis, transverse myelitis or anything like that, I’m living proof that you can beat that shit.”
After giving up the mask and Slipknot, Jordison formed bands Scar the Martyr, Vimic and Sinsaenum, and continued with his main side project Murderdolls. The latter had been running parallel to Slipknot since 2002. Over the years, he also played with legends such as Metallica, Korn, Ministry and Rob Zombie.
In a tribute to the late percussive legend, Trivium frontman Matthew Heafy has said, “Joey’s contributions to music changed the face of heavy music on the planet as we know it.” This statement could not be truer. Jordison will forever be remembered as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, drummer of all time.
Here are five Slipknot songs that prove Joey Jordison was one of the best percussionists to have ever lived.
Joey Jordison’s best Slipknot songs:
Where to start but with Slipknot’s biggest “hit”. Everything about the song is iconic. The vocals, guitars and music video are instantly recognisable, and they make it one of the standout tracks of the noughties. We could go on about the titanic riffs or the dark lyricism of ‘Duality’, but the key thing underpinning this monstrous track is Joey Jordison’s drumming.
Jordison’s drumming on 2004’s ‘Duality’ is akin to the thunderous riffs that Slipknot guitarists Mick Thompson and Jim Root provide. If riff’s existed in percussion, this would be the best example. The beat is undeniably brilliant, and the thunderous toms that build up at the introduction lead to the drop-kicking in, where Jordison blows the listener away. His signature double kick is there for all to hear.
What’s interesting about his use of the double kick is its use in the verse. The rhythm Jordison undertakes is such a groove that it could be in equal parts a Pantera song as a Massive Attack beat. ‘Duality’ is a tour de force in percussion, with Jordison covering every part of a huge drum kit in style. He will forever be remembered for this iconic beat.
‘People = Shit’
What a song title. If anything captures the early nihilistic ethos of Slipknot, it is the title and chorus of ‘People = Shit’. It is classic Slipknot, track two from the band’s 2001 sophomore album Iowa.
The album took a more sinister note than the group’s eponymous debut album, and ‘People = Shit’ is evidence of that.
The devilish tone of the song is driven by the evil beat that Jordison provides. As is customary in metal, and as a Slipknot hallmark, he underpins the bass drench riffs with drumming that is as demented as is calculated. A fan favourite, even in his lifetime ‘People = Shit’ was counted as one of Jordison’s finest moments.
A cult classic amongst Slipknot fans, there are countless videos of Jordison playing it that exist on the internet, with some of them having millions of views.
It is a testament to his skill that a forty-second clip of the song’s intro has had millions of viewers. Whether it be the album version of ‘Eyeless’ or a live one, the beat roars as if Odin had sent it himself.
Featuring the classic breakbeat sample, as was customary with metal bands at the turn of the century, Jordison cuts through it with his double kick and the pop of his snare. The amount of beats Jordison records is reminiscent of a machine gun.
‘The Heretic Anthem’
Track six off Iowa and Jordison’s drums on the introduction need no explaining. Even if Slipknot are not for you, the ruthless execution of the beat is awe-inspiring. The standout moment from ‘The Heretic Anthem’ is Jordison’s ridiculously skilful drum solo, and the ensuing breakdown. Jordison songs such as ‘The Heretic Anthem’ are credited with bringing the use of the double kick back into the repertoire of mainstream metal drummers – a feat that Jordison was humble about.
He said: “When Slipknot came out, no one was playing double-bass like that back then. It didn’t exist. You never heard it, unless it was a really underground band. As Slipknot came out, you started to hear more of the harder metal coming back, and all of a sudden double bass drummers started appearing everywhere.
If I did help out a little bit, man, it’s an absolute huge honour for me.”
Hailed amongst Slipknot fans, ‘Disasterpiece’ is track three on the menacing album Iowa and ranks as one of the drummer’s finest moments. Prior to Iowa‘s release, Jordison claimed, “Wait till you hear our fuckin’ next record. It smokes our first album. The shit’s twice as technical, three times as heavy.” Of course, he was right.
‘Disasterpiece’ is five minutes of Jordison proving he was a virtuoso. His dynamics are varied, and he covers every inch of his extensive kit. It is for these reasons ‘Disasterpiece’ is hailed as his magnum opus. Jordison demolishes the kit in a scorching tour de force, showing his extreme metal influences by cramming in as many beats into a measure as physically possible.