Slipknot did something special in creating their fourth studio album: they went home. Preparation for All Hope Is Gone began in 2007 and the recording process began in early 2008 at the Sound Farm Studio in Iowa, marking the first major label album from Slipknot to be recorded in their home state.
And it sounds like home.
All Hope Is Gone is a shadowy, down-to-earth record with twisting melodies, some unexpectedly light tones, and a great equilibrium of radiance and gloom. It is their most melodious and most sonically-pleasing album to date and represents a shift in a new direction without abandoning the crunching turmoil that the maggots adore.
Producer Dave Fortman was brought in to help prepare the sound and give it some density. Best known for his work on Evanescence’s Fallen, Fortman loaned his ear for layering to the band and the final result certainly benefits from it.
According to reports, all nine members of Slipknot were involved in the writing process. Vocalist Corey Taylor told MTV via podcast that the process was not without its conflict, but that Slipknot’s music always contains elements of conflict.
With All Hope Is Gone, the album gains its clarity through the palpable divergence. Some songs are unequivocally disordered, with percussion slipping in and out where it doesn’t belong like a stroppy youngster, while other songs are extraordinarily elegiac and almost resemble ballads.
All Hope Is Gone comes born out of a throng of sound that includes a smidge of Spiro Agnew (“.Execute.”) and quickly storms into the mammoth breadth of “Gematria (The Killing Name)” with a rattle of drums and some killer guitar. The pace is swift, the pounding is remorseless, and Slipknot holds back on the strain just long enough to incite madness.
The thrash elements are here, but there is more of a sonic spotlessness to them. The wall of guitars takes over and crushes the listener into capitulation, while the drums pummel away on whatever’s left. It’s sanitization by inferno, a ripening assault for the senses that isn’t afraid of covering new earth.
Taylor’s vocals run the gamut of cavernous growls and wonderfully tuneful segments, giving his lyrical delivery a sense of ardour that is hard to ignore. I’m not particularly a Slipknot fan, but his passion and force captivated me. “You don’t always know where you stand/till you know that you won’t run away,” he sings on “Sulfur.”
Guitar solos show up an awful lot on All Hope Is Gone, which is a welcome addition to the set-up. Cleverly gifted, Mick Thomson’s solos are out of this world and really give each track additional strength and concentration.
Acoustic guitars even find their way into the mix, as Slipknot heads right into rock ballad country with the gorgeous “Snuff,” a song that finds them sounding unusually snug in a setting that would have likely fit Taylor’s Stone Sour better. Anxious to experiment and demonstrate development, however, the nine members of Slipknot fit the track expressively and formulate a truly believable song.
All Hope Is Gone has all of the elements of a truly epic album. “Dead Memories” has alt-rock radio hit written all over and “This Cold Black” may be one of their heaviest tracks ever. The capacity and extent of the record is unbelievable, as is the band’s courageousness to do what they want with no apologies.
This is great stuff and I truly can’t say enough about this record. It is one of the best heavy albums of the year and represents a diversity in music that is habitually missing from countless fashionable rock bands. Unlike Staind, Slipknot isn’t afraid of progress and on All Hope Is Gone, they welcome it with open arms.