Slipknot is an American metal band formed in Des Moines, Iowa, in 1995. Their musical style is nu-metal, which exploded in the late 1990s in the United States, the band is known for its large number of members, the masks worn by each, and the energetic shows, which has guaranteed a large number of young fans to this day. Between 1998 and 2010, the band consisted of Sid Wilson, Chris Fehn, James Root, Craig Jones, Shawn Crahan, Mick Thomson, Corey Taylor, Paul Gray and Joey Jordison, who recorded four studio albums during this period. After the death of bassist Paul Gray in 2010 and the departure of drummer Joey Jordison in 2013, Alessandro Venturella (bass) and Jay Weinberg (drums) were chosen as replacements. In 2019, after a lawsuit by Chris Fehn against the band, the percussionist left it, being replaced by Michael Pfaff.
The band released its first demo album, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat., in 1996. Their eponymous debut album was released in 1999 and was followed by Iowa in 2001 and Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) in 2004. Their subsequent albums, All Hope Is Gone (2008), The Gray Chapter (2014), and We Are Not Your Kind (2019) reached the top of several music charts around the world, including the US Billboard 200. The band has also released five DVDs, including Disasterpieces (2002), which was certified quadruple platinum in the United States, and (sic)nesses (2010), in which the band members paid tribute to the late bassist Paul Gray.
Slipknot remains one of the most successful groups within their style, headlining music festivals such as Ozzfest, Download Festival, Mayhem Festival, Rock is Ring, Hellfest and Graspop Metal Meeting. By 2015, they had sold nearly 30 million albums worldwide. In 2006, they won a Grammy in the Best Metal Performance category for the song “Before I Forget”.
In September 1995 the band “The Pale Ones” was created, with Shawn Crahan on drums, Gray on bass, Anders Colsefini on vocals and Steele on guitar. Joey Jordison joined the band shortly thereafter, taking the role of drummer and later moving Crahan to percussion. The band continued to develop their vision more of what would be in the band, they made the decision to add a second guitarist, bringing in Josh Brainard and Colsefini switching to percussion along with the vocals. The band gave their first live performance under the name “Meld” on December 4, 1995, at a club called, The CroBar, in Des Moines. Soon after, Jordison suggested the band change the name to Slipknot, due to the song of the same name from the demo, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. The band also began experimenting with their image, wearing grotesque clothing, and eventually, the anti-image concept developed between members wearing masks and industrial overalls.
With many materials ready, the band started at a local studio, SR Audio with Sean McMahon. In February 1996, guitarist Donnie Steele left the band due to his Christian beliefs, although the other band members were willing to allow him to stay, Steele decided to leave. His replacement, Craig Jones, arrived during the mixing period of this new project. On April 4, Slipknot played their first gig, at “Des Moines Reggae Club The Safari,” where they played most of their first shows. The band began to realize once again that there was a need for a change, as they had been adding samples on their recordings, but could not produce these sounds live. Subsequently, Craig Jones moved in to play the sampler and Mick Thomson was brought in to fill the space on guitar. After the conflict over mixing and mastering, the band released their first album Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. (MFKR) on Halloween, October 31, 1996.
With the production of this album, Sean McMahon began distributing the record and management companies, which resulted in airplay on local radio and in turn earned the band a spot at Dotfest. Slipknot had returned to the studio to develop new material, which required a vocalist with a melodic and violent voice. As a result, Corey Taylor was hired from bandmates Stone Sour; with Colsefni moving in for backing vocals and percussion. With their new vocalist, the band continued to play shows at Safari, during one of which moments, Colsefini at the show surprised both the fans and the band on stage by announcing that he was leaving the band. The gap in percussion was filled by Greg Welts, who was affectionately known as Cuddles. In late 1997, the band began wearing overalls as their uniform and assigned individual numbers to each member respectively.
In early 1998, the band created a short demo, which included Spit It Out. The Slipknot Demo was sent to many record labels, and along with growing popularity on the Internet, interest grew from record labels and eventually by producer Ross Robinson. The band, who had a strong interest in working with Robinson, met with him and it was then decided that they would work together. Soon after, DJ Sid Wilson was brought into the band and impressed everyone with his talent as a DJ. With the acquisition of Ross Robinson, the band grew and began to receive offers from record companies. On July 6, 1998, Welts was asked to leave the band, becoming the first and only member of the band to be fired. Welts was temporarily replaced by Brandon Darner (who played only one show with the band but developed his own mask), Chris Fehn joined soon after, inheriting Darner’s mask, and on July 8 they signed to Roadrunner Records.
In late 1998, Slipknot returned to the recording studio to work on their debut album. In early 1999, for personal reasons guitarist Brainard decided to leave the band and was replaced by James Root. With the recording completed in early 1999 with “Me Inside” and “Purity”, the band participated in Ozzfest, which started in March. On June 29, 1999, the band released their self-titled album, Slipknot. Regarding the album, Rick Anderson of Allmusic wrote “You thought Limp Bizkit was heavy? They are The Osmonds. Slipknot is something else entirely.” The band performed on the Livin La Vida Loco Tour in support of the Slipknot album. The Slipknot album includes variations of previously released songs, including “(sic),” a version of the previous song, “Slipknot.” These versions were faster than their previous recordings and this change was welcomed by former fans. The same year, Slipknot released their first home video, Welcome to Our Neighborhood (which was later released on DVD in 2003). In early 2000, Slipknot was certified platinum. In July 2001, the Slipknot album entered the list of the “50 Heaviest Albums of All Time”.
After the success of their debut album, Slipknot decided to enter the studio again to record their second album. By then, the band had built up a large fan base, and expectations for the follow-up to the new album were great. Iowa, the band’s second album with Roadrunner Records, was released on August 28, 2001. Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic comments, “It’s really everything you could ask for on a Slipknot album, and then some – maybe a little more than you’d like, actually, if you’re not part of the cult.” David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine called the album “the first great record of the new metal era.”
Iowa also had great commercial success, reaching #3 on Billboard, and #1 on the UK charts in the chart album category. In mid-2001, the band went on tour once again, playing Ozzfest and Kill The Industry festivals in support of the Iowa album. In 2002, the band appeared in concert on the set of the movie Rollerball. The same year, they toured Europe on The European Iowa Tour. The BBC stated that Slipknot stole the show and proved entertainment after the band performed a show at Reading Festival in England. After touring Europe, the band performed in Japan on the Japan Iowa Tour. The same year, Slipknot released their second production look with the release of their Disasterpieces DVD.
In 2002, a series of musical projects came out from the members of Slipknot. Vocalist Corey Taylor and guitarist James Root returned to Stone Sour, with the release of their debut album Stone Sour. Drummer Joey Jordison also had his own project, in which he took on the role of guitarist in Murderdolls. Soon after, Slipknot took a break from working on the third album in late 2002, but the band was in trouble. At this point, there were rumours that the band might break up, and thus, there would be no more chances for a third album. By mid-2003, Shawn Crahan had a new project, to the surprise of many, in which he worked with the named producer Rick Rubin.
In late 2003, the band Slipknot began writing and recording with so-named producer Rick Rubin, who has previously worked with artists such as Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, System of a Down, Slayer and currently works with Linkin Park. Roadrunner Records also announced that they would stop distributing albums in Scandinavia due to financial conditions. However, Slipknot managed to deal with Nuclear Blast Records in early 2003 for releases in Scandinavia. The band released their third album, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), on May 24, 2004, which peaked at number two on the Billboard 200. Johnny Loftus of Allmusic called the album “a satisfying, carefully designed representation of the band and their career to date,” while Robert Cherry of Rolling Stone said the album is “new experiences, even with extreme conditions, which in the case of Slipknot in the midst of their song tradition structured musings.” The album title indicates that this is their third album, later members mentioned that they do not consider Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. as an album that reflects the band. In 2004, the band toured Ozzfest for the third time, the same year they also made their first appearance at Download Festival. In 2005, Slipknot played several shows without Shawn Crahan, who was supporting his wife during an illness, including their return to Download Festival.
Shortly thereafter, Slipknot released their second live album, 9.0: Live which included recordings of shows in Phoenix, Las Vegas, Osaka, Singapore and Tokyo. The album was released on November 1, 2005, and was charted on the Billboard 200 at #17. In 2006, the band won a Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance with the song “Before I Forget.” Later that year, Slipknot also released their third DVD Voliminal: Inside the Nine. Several band members collaborated with other artists on Roadrunner United: The All-Star Sessions (CD released in October 2005). For the record, Joey Jordison was named as the “team captain” Root, Taylor, and Gray also contributed to the album’s production. In 2006, Root and Taylor once again returned to Stone Sour producing their second album Come What (ever) May. Joey Jordison played the drums for several bands simultaneously on tour including; Ministry and Korn. At the end of the year, Shawn Crahan revealed a new side project, the band Dirty Little Rabbits, where Shawn plays the drums.
The band has stated that their main influences include Metallica, Pantera, Sepultura, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Judas Priest, Korn, Ministry, AC/DC, Kiss and Beastie Boys. Death metal and traditional heavy metal have been mentioned as one of the band’s main influences on the musical direction along with nu-metal, as the band is usually presented. They have also stated that they are influenced by industrial bands like Head of David, Godflesh and Skinny Puppy, or also Neurosis and jungle music like Roni Size.
They can be compared with groups like Pantera, Machine Head, Biohazard, Life of Agony, and Prong, who is also known for being chaotic and energetic in live shows. Robert Cherry of Rolling Stone called Slipknot’s sound “a threshing machine devouring a military body.” In more recent work, the “outrageous vocal” style is still present but now includes more melodies. Lyrics generally follow a very aggressive tone and feature themes such as darkness, nihilism, anger, disinterest, hatred, misanthropy, knockout and psychosis. Rick Anderson of Allmusic respects the group’s lyrics as “generally unquote for a family website.” There has been controversy surrounding Slipknot’s lyrics, including a case in which a pair of young murderers blamed the lyrics to the song “Disasterpiece” as a vicious crime and a case in 2006 in which the lyrics to the song “Surfacing” were found at the site of a grave. In the year 2008, an 18-year-old murdered a classmate in South Africa. The killer wielded a sword and had a kabuki mask resembling Slipknot’s Joey Jordison, according to the band has stated that their main influences include Metallica, Pantera, Sepultura, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Slayer, Judas Priest, Korn, Ministry, AC/DC, Kiss and Beastie Boys. Death metal and traditional heavy metal have been mentioned as one of the band’s main influences on the musical direction along with nu-metal, as the band is usually presented. They have also stated that they are influenced by industrial bands like Head of David, Godflesh and Skinny Puppy, or also Neurosis and jungle music like Roni Size.
testimony of authorities and witnesses. “We know that the wrong music and drugs give bad results. Younger people need to be informed about the effects of satanic music,” argues Pierre Epstein, director of a student support institution. The South African police have a different opinion: “Whenever there is a murder, people always jump to conclusions, and always think that it was God or the Devil who ordered the murderers to kill,” recalls the head of the local police psychology department. The band has not commented on what happened.
The band is known for its eye-catching image. The members wear industrial uniforms, have unique masks respectively, and have nicknames that are simply numbered from #0 to #8. The original idea of wearing masks during concerts is often attributed to a clown mask that percussionist Shawn Crahan brought to rehearsals when the band started. With the concept being developed in late 1997, the band decided that each musician would have to wear masks and matching original overalls. Lead singer Taylor said when asked about the masks in 2002, “It’s the way we become more intimate with the music, it’s a way to become unaware of who we are and what we do outside of music.” The concept of the industrial overalls has been described as a response to commercialism in the music business and led to the idea of assigning the band members numerical aliases. “Originally, we were going to wear the overalls we thought we might as well take it before ourselves. We were basically saying, ‘Hey, we’re a product!” explained Taylor. Their image has been the subject of much criticism, often seen as a gimmick to try and sell more albums. The band strongly criticizes these claims, proclaiming that the masks are used to draw attention to themselves as individuals and get them into the music. Several band members have noted that wearing masks also helps keep their personal lives private. During an interview in 2005, percussionist Chris Fehn even said that it was a “blessing” they were not recognized.
Throughout their career, Slipknot has always developed their image, changing the uniforms and masks of each member in accordance with the release of each album. The masks do not change completely but contain new elements. Drummer Joey Jordison addressed the issue in a 2004 interview, stating that it is to show growth and difference within each individual’s age. Alongside their usual masks, Slipknot has incorporated special masks for specific reasons throughout their career. Most notably, for the music video and live performances of the song “Vermilion” in 2004 and 2005, the band members wore death masks made from moulds of their own faces. Then, in 2008, the band wore a set of large masks, called “purgatory masks”, which are seen burning in the music video for the song Psychosocial. At first, Slipknot’s masks were made by themselves, however, since 2001, they have been created by special effects artist and musician Screaming Mad George