Tracing a path through the history of the infamous band that helped pioneer a new wave of American Heavy Metal in the late 90s, Antennas To Hell solidifies Slipknot’s place in musical history; out-lasting nu-metal trends, astonishing millions and surpassing all expectations held for nine friends from Des Moines, Iowa. The collection is not simply an endeavour to stay in the public sphere, in a way it seems part homage, to the death of founding member Paul Gray, victim of an accidental overdose in 2010; the band have only recently commented on any notion of continuing Slipknot, this record may well be the signal that the grieving process has ended “after two years of crying and hurting”.
The two disc edition is a 36 track whopper, (19 if you buy the single release); the three disc issue includes a DVD, comprising of every video released (20 singles) and ten previously unreleased vignettes recorded by Shaun Crahan (aka Clown). From their brutal origins to most recent release All Hope Is Gone, Antennas To Hell is a chronologically ordered demonstration of the band’s consistency; the sheer power of tracks such as ‘(Sic)’, ‘Eyeless’ and ‘Spit it Out’ prove the brute force of Slipknot from their 1999 self-titled debut, through their career defining ‘People=Shit’ with Iowa and onto tracks such as ‘Before I Forget’ from Vol. 3, which earned them a Grammy Award.
An organic chaos, intrinsic to the beast that became much more than a band, Slipknot and their fans – self christened, ‘maggots’ – feature throughout all three discs with two tracks from Disasterpieces on CD1 and a previously unreleased, full length recording of Slipknot live at Download Festival, 2009 on CD2. There is an evident lack of any real rarities within this collection (the third disc is essentially a comprehensive video library) however the extras, Broadcasts from Hell, is indeed a harrowing watch at times. Directed, remixed and edited by Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan, the videos are infused with a sense of macabre only to be expected from a man who aided the group’s conception. With plenty of nightmarish edits, samples and cross cutting overlaid with scorched hues of amber, each member gets their own short documentary vignette brimming with visceral imagery of the group over the past 13 years.
Showcasing an unrivalled stage performance, it is these broadcasts which make the full package worth buying; watching grown men leap death defying distances onto the heads of adoring fans, set themselves alight, perform alongside severed pig heads and generally defy all moral boundaries to bring a musical message to millions is quite inspiring albeit a peculiar means of doing so.
Crahan has refused to refer to Antennas To Hell as a greatest hits record: “that means one of three things – either the band is breaking up, they’re trying to get off their record company, or they’ve become some pathetic infomercial at two in the morning” – none of which applies to Slipknot, luckily. Simply put, this is an introspective look at Slipknot from the member’s point of view; personally collected, collated and ordered for our listening and viewing pleasure. Such artistic collections are too far and few between in the metal genre and, if anything, this record helps document and understand the monster. Antennas To Hell is more of a ‘story so far’ and a perfect jumping off point for those who have not yet experienced the raw power of this unique band.