.5 THE GRAY MATTER
With a ton of speculation and even more wonderment on this band's ability to continue on without founding members Paul Gray and Joey Jordison, Slipknot has returned after far too long of a layoff with .5 THE GRAY MATTER. I've listened to this release multiple times a day for the last week or so that I've had it, not so much because I wanted to figure out if it was good or not, but to get my head past the considerations of "would this sound different with the other guys". While there are some things that probably would have been a bit different, overall .5 THE GRAY MATTER is EXACTLY what you would expect to hear from Slipknot. Not only do the songs measure well against their past work, but they comes with a lot of aggression and anger that has come from the turmoil of the last few years in the band.
I had the pleasure of working directly with Davey Suicide as he prepped his debut release a few years ago for release. I got to work with him on some promotional stuff, some publicity stuff, his website and a lot more of that kind of stuff. In that work, I quickly found him to be far more than the typical "scene kid" that he seems to be consistently lumped in with. If anything, Davey is one of the most thought out guys in rock today. He plans everything out, from the material on his discs to his image to his second career as a portrait artist. Further, he has tremendous vision for someone that's not all that accomplished as of yet. I remember a conversation we had at one point. When asked what he hoped to happen with his debut release, he said, "I hope to be in a position to break through with the next release". Mission accomplished. Through some crazy hard touring, member changes and now the release of WORLDWIDE SUICIDE, Davey Suicide seems like the kind of artist that could break through to the next level.
LAST TANGLE IN PARIS
Al Jourgensen of Ministry has been threatening to take his ball and go home for a long time now. Quite frankly, I'm not sure I believe that he'll ever retire. Every time he says he's retiring, he seems to come right back with more music that's stronger, meaner and just better than anything in his past. Being quite honest, I've found his releases of the last 10 years (HOUSES OF THE MOLE, RIO GRANDE BLOOD, THE LAST SUCKER, RELAPSE and FROM BEER TO ETERNITY) to be the better half of his career; far stronger than the bigger selling stuff like PSALM 69 or FILTH PIG. Jourgensen is producing far more solid material than ever before, which makes it hard to understand why he would step aside now. Then again, with the industry pretty much dead, maybe now's as good a time as any. If he is truly done, at least he lives a lot of fans satisfied with some killer live music on LAST TANGLE IN PARIS.
As a fan of Downset, I wasn't really surprised when the band split up in 2009. They claimed that "the band has run it's course". As a fan, I believe that. They definitely had a huge influence on a lot of the bigger nu-metal bands of the 2000s. Certainly, anyone that heard releases like DO WE SPEAK A DEAD LANGUAGE knew the band was onto something good. There were a small number of bands that had a minute, but ultimately didn't last though. Downset was clearly one of them. To be honest, as a fan, I think I was OK with them ending the band when they did. Their last release, UNIVERSAL, was completely unmemorable, and most of the bands of the time had developed the sound far past the Biohazard-influenced material they had always showcased.
As a total fan of hardcore metal, it's a genre that doesn't always make a lot of sense. Certainly, there's no real questioning why a band like Agnostic Front is the "Black Sabbath" of the genre. Equally, it's not much of a surprise that Biohazard was so well regarded as they broke the style into the mainstream with the big budgets that record companies put into a few of their early releases. What is surprising though is the almost complete lack of respect that Madball has always received. Now 20 years old, Madball is the single most consistent band of the genre. Each and every album has achieved a level of excellence that only a select few has come close to achieving. With that said though, they just never became one of those elite bands. No matter though, because those of us that know realize just how incredible this band truly is. HARDCORE LIVES just keeps the train of excellence rolling.