Featured Review : Slipknot

Photo by Matt Christine Photography
Photo by Matt Christine Photography

     In the past 4 years Slipknot have gone through more trials than most bands do in a decade, yet they stuck it out and are currently out on the “Prepare For Hell Tour” in support of one of the most successful albums to date. The band recently released “.5: The Grey Chapter,” an album that essentially chronicles the struggle the band went through following the loss of bassist Paul Grey and the years following that tragic event.

     The album quickly soared to the top of Billboard 200 and was widely regarded as a critical success for Slipknot and a true return to form despite the absence of Paul Grey (whom the album is named for) and the departure of Joey Jordison (who exited the band after being fired in 2013.) Regardless all of that is in the band’s past now and Slipknot is looking towards the future as they move passed everything and work truly emerged a better band as a result.

Photo by Matt Christine Photography
Photo by Matt Christine Photography

     Earlier this week the Santander Arena in Reading was transformed into Slipknot’s playground for the “Prepare For Hell Tour” and fans packed it to the brim. Nearly every seat in the venue was occupied by the time Slipknot came on at 9:30PM and the floor was at max capacity for the duration of the night. The venue was a cool wash of blue light as “XIX” began to play through the venue sound system and shadows of the bands members walking out on stage began to be cast upon the curtain obscuring the stage from view.

     As the curtain rose a sinister carnival of sorts began to flickr to life like something out of a horror movie as individual bulbs of light slowly began to illuminate, the blue wash got more intense and suddenly a backdrop incorporating the album artwork from “.5: The Grey Chapter” came into view as the front lights slowly fired up. Suddenly, as if appearing from nowhere, Slipknot was on-stage in full and Corey Taylor gave a massive scream to start the night off with “Sarcastrophe.”

Photo by Matt Christine Photography
Photo by Matt Christine Photography

     The band moved chaotically across the stage in what can only be described as a well orchestrated yet totally unplanned piece of work. Jim Root rarely stood in one position as he played guitar and certainly wasn’t afraid to lean off the overly tall stage to toss guitar picks down to dedicated fans who made it to the front of the crowd for the show. There was never a point where a band member was slacking off on stage which made Slipknot look like a well-oiled machine that was ready to deliver the destruction they are known for from the very first song. As the second song began Corey Taylor took a moment to entice the Reading crowd and he was met with a roar of fans singing along the opening lines to “The Heretic Anthem.” As if on cue the stage become a sea of red and was backlit with bursts of white mixed with even larger bursts of pyrotechnics.

Photo by Matt Christine Photography
Photo by Matt Christine Photography

     The band’s new masks compliment their new stage show perfectly, adding to the sick and twisted carnival theme that they seem to be going for on the “Prepare For Hell Tour.” As the show progressed the attention to deal that Slipknot gives to their live came to reality as each song was a perfect mixture of coloring, light timing and the ever so important usage of fire. On “The Devil In I” pyrotechnics danced across the stage perfectly in time with Mick Thomas and Jim Root’s guitar parts and when Corey Taylor came back in on vocals for the chorus the fire shot into the air as he screamed. By the time the band got to “Pyschosocial” the standing room section had erupted into an incredibly large circle pit as well as a bunch of individual push pits, there was no lack of enthusiasm from the crowd as they fed of the band’s energy from start to finish.

Photo by Matt Christine Photography
Photo by Matt Christine Photography

     Through out the night Clown and Chris Fehn stepped down from their nearly 30-foot high drum risers to interact with the crowd, partake in guest vocals, and even just to go a little crazy with other band members. Despite what many websites may be claiming the band seems to be in great spirits on stage and all getting along well with each other, not to mention the fact that they are delivering one of the most technically sound performances of their career.

     Much talk has all been spent on the fill-ins Slipknot has been using on drums as well as bass and all I have to say about that is that their chosen musicians (whomever they may be) play the parts solidly and deserve commendation for stepping up to be a part of the performance. Slipknot’s evolution has been a long time in the works and their place in the arena sized venue has never been more obvious, very few rock bands are selling the amount of tickets they have and even fewer metal bands are accomplishing what they are. A true return of Slipknot in my opinion.

Photo by Matt Christine Photography
Photo by Matt Christine Photography

     The setlist for the “Prepare to Hell Tour” changes slightly from night to night but as a whole it only seems to contain three songs of “.5: The Grey Chapter,” a perfect sampling of new material in my opinion because it doesn’t overwhelm the fans who came to hear other material. The 17 song setlist spans the band entire career and of course contains many of the crucial songs that Slipknot live shows are known for like “Spit It Out,” and yes for those wondering Corey Taylor is still making people sit down before having them “Jump the F**k up.” It is fantastic to see Slipknot not forgetting the things that got them to the size stage they on today and including songs like “Eyeless,” “Wait and Bleed” and “People = Shit” in their set. The full show list from Reading is listed below, as I said many shows are varying in songs but this setlist was particularly strong.

Slipknot 12-2 Setlist : Santander Arena – Reading PA
Sarcastrophe
The Heretic Anthem
My Plague
The Devil in I
Psychosocial
The Negative One
Three Nil
Eyeless
Vermilion
Before I Forget
Duality
Wait and Bleed
Spit It Out
Custer

Encore:
(sic)
People = Shit
Surfacing


     Slipknot’s performance in Reading makes me excited for the future and what they will be coming come a year or two from now. Their popularity in the metal scene has certainly never been higher and the attendance to this show truly showcases that, they have also just been announced as a headliner for Rock On The Range next year which means that they will most certainly be embarking on another US Tour as it gets closer to that time. For those who missed the show keep an eye out for Slipknot’s return to Pennyslvania or any nearby state because this show is certainly worth the travel to go see. It took them a few years to get it together but Slipknot are back and ready to take the world by storm once again.

Be sure to check out Sight of Sound Magazine’s exclusive photo gallery of Slipknot in Reading from Matt Christine Photography below :

 

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