After the death of bassist Paul Gray, also their chief songwriter, and the departure of Joey Jordison, many believed that Slipknot might struggle to write new material. 5: The Gray Chapter is the sound of a band who have persevered through incredibly tough times and have still managed to stay consistent, 15 years after releasing their debut album. While they may not attempt anything too innovative in terms of song writing, they have created an album that is the culmination of their entire career, perfectly encapsulating the sound of their previous four albums.
After the intro ‘XIX’, ‘Sacastrophe’ sets the same hostile tone that was always a winning formula for the band. It is one that is revisited at several points, most notably on ‘The Negative One’ and ‘Nomadic’. The more melodic styling of Corey Taylor’s side project Stone Sour is present on ‘Killpop’ and ‘Goodbye’. The mixture of this with the menacingly dark sounds of Slipknot showcases the more accessible side of a band who many to neglect to realise are just as talented at recording acoustically as they are with all eight members hammering away on their individual instruments.
James Root and Mick Thompson are dutiful in providing intricate, heavy guitar riffs and solos throughout. Their tuned down, distorted sounds are one of the key characteristics of the band. Very few heavy metal guitarists utilise their instruments with as much originality as the two of them. Another element of the band’s sound was Joey Jordison’s breakneck speed drumming. His replacement, whose identity will remain unknown, does an excellent job in replicating the complicated style of his predecessor.
5: The Gray Chapter is an album that serves its purpose in silencing any doubters. Years of in band arguments and the loss of two members has in no way hindered their ability to make unique and well written heavy metal tracks. Each track is gently reminiscent of their previous work while still undertaking a different approach to their song writing. They have once again achieved a sound that cannot be replicated and only continues to mature with each release.