Let’s be real: Slipknot are probably the most important metal band of the past two decades. Sure, they may not technically be the biggest, or loudest, or the most brutal. But it’s undeniable that their mixture of theatricality, dysfunction, and loud-as-fuck extreme music has changed metal’s sound, ethos, and public image in more ways than any other artist in the genre over the last 20 years. Plenty of bands come and go — even bands with masks and gimmicks — but these nine dues from Des Moines, Iowa, have remained relevant, interesting, and huge since they were first unleashed from America’s heartland in the late ’90s.
Since today marks the anniversary of the band releasing their career-changing sophomore album Iowa, we decided to go all-in and do a list as massive as Slipknot itself. Below, we’ve ranked every single Slipknot track from worst to best, right down to the between-song interludes. The only caveat is that we left off 1996’s Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat., because the band now considers it more of a demo, and because the songs thereon were mostly recycled into material on their other studio releases.
Here’s every Slipknot song, in order of how much they throttled our world. Stay (sic).
94. “-Silent-”, “-Talk-”, and “-Funny-” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
These three bonus tracks from 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter are what they say on the label — one’s silent, one’s a bunch of ambient noise with talking behind it, and one’s kind of a weird polka performance that’s pretty funny. They’re fine, but don’t really add anything to the Slipknot conversation, and no one track is truly better than the others, so they land at the bottom of this list, in the same slot.
93. “What’s Next” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
It’s not exactly clear what Slipknot were trying to accomplish with this interlude track from We Are Not Your Kind, but there’s not much here besides a lead into “Spiders.” This is the recurring theme of the in-between moments of the album — an attempt to connect songs with bits of melody that may not have made it onto the album otherwise. In any event, it’s a fine interlude, but nothing too exciting.
92. “.execute” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
The opening interlude of 2008’s All Hope Is Gone has interesting aspects with its swelling feedback and closing drum freak-out…but it’s very much just an interlude, an appetizer with which to make the listener hungrier for the record. Granted, Corey Taylor might reveal that his distorted ranting in the track actually is the deepest lyric he’s ever written for Slipknot, but we doubt it. So, #92.
91. “My Pain” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
…huh. While 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind appears to be all about taking risks and playing with pop sensibilities, “My Pain” feels like it gets a little too zealous in that territory. The Casio-style beat and melody over Corey’s clean vocals aren’t just less-than-metal, they’re also sort of aimless, leading towards a big catchy chorus that would save the track if it ever showed up. This might be fine for an interlude, but the song is over six minutes, making one question Slipknot’s motivations here.
90. “Death Because of Death” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
“Death Because of Death” is what it is — an interlude track with electronic noise and a single repeated lyric. It’s also on the more traditional side compared to some of Slipknot’s other shrieking, nightmarish between-song moments. This isn’t to say it’s bad — it does lead nicely into “Nero Forte” — only that it’s not a terribly important or huge track. Hence why it’s so low on this list.
89. “Snuff” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
Ho boy. For just how toothy and pissed-off so much of 2008’s All Hope Is Gone is, it also contains Slipknot’s two most candied ballads, and despite its title “Snuff” is the sappier of the two. With its slow guitars and lyrics like, “My heart is just too dark to care/You can’t destroy what isn’t there,” this one feels a little like Slipknot’s “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” or “Good Riddance (Time Of Your Life),” an attempt to infiltrate the exploding emo-rock scene of the late 2000s. How many mix tapes featuring this song were shoved into a glove compartment soon after it came on?
88. “Goodbye” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
From the get-go, “Goodbye” is full of the almost gothic sadness present on 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter. But though the track picks up in the middle, it never feels entirely like a Slipknot song. The structure comes off as too hard-rock ballad to fully accommodate Clown’s percussion, and Corey’s singing is distinctly Stone Sour-ish throughout. Not a terrible song by any means, but middle ground for such a talented band.
87. “Be Prepared For Hell” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
Sure, “Be Prepared For Hell” is just one of .5: The Grey Chapter’s interludes, but it has a definite creepiness to it. Full of eerie whining, distorted vocals, and a classic ‘90s sense of industrial disassociation, the track quickly gets across the Slipknot vibe. However, it’s not as utterly chaotic of some of its interlude brethren, and it IS only an in-between track, which is why it ranks in the 80s.
86. “Danger – Keep Away” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Hope you brought the beaded glass candle-holders, because Slipknot are feeling jazzy. “Danger – Keep Away” closes out 2006’s Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses admirably, its shadowy cave-club atmosphere fitting when one looks at the other quiet moments on the album. Overall, the song feels more like an extended interlude track than a new track, in that way mirroring opener “Prelude 3.0.” But as with that track, the band obviously put some effort into it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the same excitement as that one, and so falls a little short.
85. “Vermilion Pt. 2” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
A rare moment when Slipknot drops all drums and goes full acoustic, “Vermilion P1. 2” feels like the healthy sunrise after the dark night of its predecessor…which is why it’s so low (high? low?) on this list. In the light of day, Slipknot’s haunted house loses its shadowy power, and this track’s sepia tone is just a little too much for most listeners (or maybe not enough). Though a solid way to show your non-metal friends that Slipknot have a gentler side, there are only so many lamps you can break to this song, if any.
84. “Gehenna” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
“Gehenna” follows in the footsteps of previous tracks like “Scissors” and “Iowa,” but its slow eeriness feels a little less psychological and toxic than that of those classics. Maybe it’s the Halloween-decoration howl that warbles through the entire song, or Corey’s moaned lyrics, but this one sounds less organic. Many of the band’s other songs come off as unintentionally scary and therefore all the more intimidating; this one feels like a Halloween attraction, spooky overall but deliberate and dressed-up in order to be so.
83. “Frail Limb Nursery” (Slipknot, 1998)
You want to know why people were genuinely afraid of Slipknot in 1998? This, right here. “Frail Limb Nursery” is just an interlude track from the band’s self-titled album, but the weeping, cracking voice playing throughout it sounds like the confessions of your sister that your parents had locked out of sight. Agonizing and shudder-inducing, this brief cutaway brings the kind of creepiness that Marilyn Manson only dreamt of at the time.
82. “Override” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
What “Override” seems to lack is definition. The pace and tone suggest a heartrending ‘Knot ballad, but the guitar and drum work pack enough battery to make one wonder why it never full-on breaks into a run. Not only that, but it’s a long track for what it is, over five minutes of a mixed bag. Though interesting in certain ways, this one just never quite sinks its hooks into the listener.
81. “(515)” (Iowa, 2001)
There’s an episode of Rick & Morty where Morty’s about to get sent to jail and utters a frantic, primal cry whose specific tone and syllables suddenly make people love and forgive him. Iowa’s opening track “(515)” is sort of like that in reverse, a series of harsh shrieks and vibrating notes that make the listener want to kill whatever’s causing them (rumor is it’s mostly Sid screaming, “DEATH,” so that makes sense). It perfectly sets the tone for the record, trying to make anyone expecting something polished and listenable crawl out of their own skin. Definitely don’t play this at Christmas carolers when they show up your door — that’d be insane, and totally not funny.
80. “Insert Coin” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
While the intro track to 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind is in many ways jarring and almost annoying, that seems to lend to its power. The harsh, rhythmic scrapes of the song’s opening act as a buffer, letting listeners know that if they’re here to be pleased or pandered to, they came to the wrong place. As such, it’s a brief declaration of the album’s title and intention, a warning that Slipknot may be bigger than ever, but they’re still not here to be loved.
79. “Nomadic” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
“Nomadic” has almost the opposite issue that the track before it, “Goodbye” — it feels too much like a Slipknot song. From Sid’s scratches to Corey’s lyrics to Ben’s drumming, this comes off like it was structured to meet certain prerequisites assigned to Slipknot’s music. That’s certainly good news for the band’s diehards, but for many of us, it’s Slipknot’s more unusual moments that set them apart from the pack. When Taylor screams, “I need you to hate me!”, it sounds almost like he’s explaining himself.
78. “‘Til We Die” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
Plenty of songs can be described as Slipknot ‘not wanting to make friends,’ but “‘Til We Die” seems dead set on alienating anyone who isn’t ready for it. To begin, there’s the squealing, high-pitched feedback behind the chorus. Then, there’s the fact that it’s a Stone Sour-ish hard rock singalong about togetherness — not exactly your typical Slipknot subject matter. The mixture of sweetness and pure audio confrontation means both rabid metalheads and casual radio listeners will find it unpalatable…which is maybe what the band were going for.
77. “This Cold Black” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
While it has its moments, “This Cold Black” is about as standard a Slipknot track as it comes. Which means it’s pretty good — pneumatic! Destructive! Distorted! But everything from its pacing to its lyrics feel like someone was asked to write a Slipknot song from a template. There just isn’t enough overkill here, the sound of the whole universe crashing down around the listener at once. That said, it’s a solid, pissed-off metal track, so it’s not the end of the world, even if we kind of wish it was.
76. “Don’t Get Close” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
It’s a little obvious why “Don’t Get Close” ended up a bonus track. The song is perfectly serviceable, and has some solid Slipknot punch and growl to it. But it feels ever so slightly unfinished, like many of the parts and lyrics were placeholders that never got switched out before it was recorded. Corey Taylor yelling, “Don’t get close — you don’t know me, and you’ll never know” feels a little anticlimactic after all the different ways in which he’s told listeners to leave him the fuck alone previously on Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. One can hear why for certain fans this song has a special place in their hearts, but there’s just better bile to be had elsewhere.
75. “Butcher’s Hook” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
While “Butcher’s Hook” is a solid, meat-and-potatoes Slipknot track from 2008’s All Hope Is Gone, it feels incongruous. The band’s wonky-yet-slamming tone is definitely appropriate for a track like this, but combined with Taylor’s spewed lyrics about the media and outraged pearl-clutchers (or both?), that atmosphere seems like it might be better suited to a more venomous track. None the less, the song definitely has that distinct mixture of belligerence and catchiness that makes Slipknot so much fun.
74. “Not Long For This World” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
To hear the intro of “Not Long For This World” after the song before it on We Are Not Your Kind, the meandering “My Pain,” one worries they’re in for another darkwave track. Thankfully, this one brings a kick that saves it, with ample hard rock muscle filling out the spaces between Taylor’s opining. The spooky solo midway through is killer, and leads into a more fully-formed vision of the song that makes it a memorable addition to the Slipknot catalog. No doubt the song will find a special place in the playlists of those who love Slipknot at their catchiest.
73. “The One That Kills The Least” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
The heavy answer to intro track “XIX”, this song off of 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter is like a growing pain set to music. The band’s rapid-fire racket is ever-present, but at times strains against Corey Taylor’s melodious clean vocals. Meanwhile, Sid Wilson and Craig Jones’ electronic flourishes add a strange, territorial vibe to the whole track. It’s as though every member of Slipknot is trying to elbow their way to the front on this song, which, though not always perfect, definitely creates a delicious sort of tension.
72. “Dead Memories” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
Like a heartagram tattoo on their waistline, “Dead Memories” is a song that did big things for Slipknot when it first appeared, but now makes folks wonder what motives were behind it. The track is as close to a pop ballad as the band would ever create, and felt like the nine-piece trying to make a little bit of that sweet My Chemical Romance money that was going around at the time. But while it isn’t very angry and goes hard on the cheese, it’s memorable, if not for all the best reasons, and has more double-bass than “The Reason,” so it does rank higher than some of Slipknot’s other stuff. Even Jason Voorhees cried about his mama.
71. “Skin Ticket” (Iowa, 2001)
Though Slipknot’s slower, more languid tracks are some of their better ones as a rule, “Skin Ticket” is sort of the standard-issue version of them. It definitely has some great spit-flecked, sung-through-teeth Taylor vocals, and the echoing groan of the guitars gets across the mentally-broken vibe it’s going for. But the song doesn’t do anything to necessarily make the listener rear back in surprise or disgust — which is in many ways why we’re all here in the first place. Still, a solid brooder.
70. “The Burden” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
The closing number of .5: The Gray Chapter sees Slipknot doing something strange and specific: crawling. With its steamroller pace and hailstorm drumming, the track is a slog, ankle-deep in misery. It’s almost as if the band gushed all of their torment at the death of bassist Paul Gray throughout the album, and now it’s welled up around their ankles and they’re forced to walk through it to reach the way out of this record. That desperation makes it something special, an uncommon expression of nine guys who are usually masters of their craft, showing how little they were ready for all of this.
69. “Lech” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
“I know why Judas wept, motherfucker!” Thus begins one of the more vicious tracks on 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter, a straightforward metal song showing off Slipknot’s sheer power of percussion. At the core of the wound, though, is Corey Taylor, whose sardonic chuckles and pained roars take center stage in this rattling scaffold of a song. As such, it’s not Slipknot’s most experimental or dreamy maerial, but one of those tracks that will endear those fans of Slayer who like to see past the Iowans’ flowerier side.
68. “Scream” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Like its fellow bonus track on Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, “Scream” feels under-formed at parts, and as such makes sense as a song included only on a deluxe edition of the album. But then there’s the pop-punk-esque chorus and bizarre, frenetic solo in the middle, which makes the listener freeze mid-spin and wonder if they just heard things right. As such, it stands above its companions, showing how even some of Slipknot’s most original and interesting flourishes can end up left off the studio release.
67. “The Virus of Life” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
“The Virus of Life” is indicative of a running theme throughout 2006’s Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses: Slipknot are having fun (I mean, not fun fun, not fun like the rest of us have, but you know, fun for them, dead-bird-in-a-jar fun). The band use this album to experiment with different ideas, and the stark, mechanical weirdness of this track shows that among the influences they incorporated were some proto-goth and ‘90s industrial. And unlike other bands who embrace that sound by simply trying to mimic Ministry’s guitar tone, these guys pull it off brilliantly, channeling the frantic energy that made that era so compelling.
66. “Spiders” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
Has there ever been a Slipknot track like “Spiders” before? The John Carpenter-ish song is slow and thoughtful like many of their ballads, but it’s never saccharine or emo, instead experimenting with Goblin-ish synths and throbbing dance beats. The result is material that stands out in the band’s catalog while remaining distinctly their own It’s refreshing to see Slipknot taking these kinds of risks this far into their career, even if they do fall on the poppier side of things.
65. “Gently” (Iowa, 2001)
“Gently” reminds one of a line from John Carpenter’s The Thing — “Whatever it is, it’s weird and pissed off.” This lumbering, club-footed track is one of Slipknot’s more bizarre and unsettling children, a slow-burn that continually erupts into bouts of violence. In that way, it’s like a serial killer, keeping its urges in check while making everyone around them uncomfortable, until the truth finally rips free from the stomach wall and comes burbling to the surface. Definitely not a typical Slipknot track, but one that should never be underestimated.
64. “Wherein Lies Continue” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
With its mid-paced chug and polished clean chorus, “Wherein Lies Continue” could’ve been a bigger single for Slipknot if it wasn’t as anti-religious as a Behemoth track. It’s an example of the band’s inherent dichotomy — on the one hand, their renown means they always have to make sure they didn’t alienate Walmart and similar big chains; on the other, they’ve never been scared to go after the people in charge of ruining the world. In any event, the song is a solid denouncement of the church’s blindfold, and contains a sick pinch harmonic, so it earns itself a spot lower down on this ranking.
63. “Prelude 3.0” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
The second-greatest intro track in Slipknot’s career immediately sets itself apart from its previous two brethren in one interesting way: it’s a song. Instead of the echoed sample of Slipknot’s “742617000027” or the distorted howl of Iowa’s “(515),” Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses’s opening is a bizarre, melancholy bit of Beatles-worship that instantly introduces fans to the mature, artistically-thorough incarnation of Slipknot they’re about to experience. For some, this might have been an unwelcome departure from the brawl of the band’s previous albums, but for many it was a beautiful rebirth and a herald of the strange things to come.
62. “A Liar’s Funeral” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
A track like “A Liar’s Funeral” shows how Slipknot can remake a sonic concept — in this case, the ballad — in their own image. The song is obviously an emotional release on the flowery side of things, what with its clean vocals and piano. And yet, the chorus’ spews of “LIAR!” and the death-march breakdown that opens up midway through give the track a uniquely gut-wrenching power that a typical heartbroken singalong just couldn’t do. Clench your teeth and tighten your grip.
61. “Purity” (Slipknot, 1998)
It’s interesting that Slipknot left “Purity” off of the reissue of their ‘98 self-titled album. The track is one of the Iowans’ most frantic and psychological, a sparse whirlwind of percussion and DJ scratches with Corey Taylor breathily moaning sleepwalker distress, all before the whole thing erupts in a firestorm of languid riffs. The song encapsulates a side of the band that they would later go all-in on, that one-two of stark open space next to vicious emotional humidity. Ah, well, we remember.
60. “Skeptic” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
.5: The Gray Chapter is noted by many for its melancholy, which exists in the songs thereon via dramatic minor-chord melodies that evoke Slipknot’s “emo” side. But “Skeptic” is about as kinetic as a Slipknot track gets, with all the stripped-down power of a furious heavyweight wailing on a punching bag. Ceaseless and without pretense, it’s the kind of song that has kept Slipknot relevant even in the world of bands like Meshuggah and Gojira, a unique beast whose fame will never chase away the metal at their core.
59. “Red Flag” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
What “Red Flag” gets right is its noise and speed. The track is Slipknot as a thrash band, without a cloud of samples and fuzz around them. On the one hand, this strips them of some of that uniquely disturbing psychological qualities that we love so much. On the other hand, it’s really nice to occasionally be reminded that Slipknot could only have four or five members and still be a pretty kickass band. Crush a beer, knock over a table.
58. “No Life” (Slipknot, 1998)
Another example of Corey Taylor’s early rapping actually adding to a metal track’s power while so many other bands’ attempts to incorporate hip-hop fell short. There’s a fun, excitable quality to “No Life” carried by its speed and bounce, as well the dazed breakdown of the bridge. Even more so, there’s a real mischievous skip to the central riff, making the band out to be local troublemakers as well as terrifying masked slashers. A fun, if at times less-than-memorable track from the ‘98 debut.
57. “XIX” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
“This song…is not for the living…” Shawn Crahan’s first lines to “XIX” sends gooseflesh down the listener’s spine. The opening track of The Gray Chapter is about as gutting as a song gets. The track is like a dirge from a group of people forced to play at the funeral of their own friend, standing in front of the casket and begging him to get up and walk with them even though he can’t. So many Slipknot songs are purposefully ambiguous, but this, this is about one person, and that makes it all the more upsetting and incredible.
56. “Metabolic” (Iowa, 2001)
Often it’s Slipknot’s artsier side that makes certain songs polarizing or a little far out for most. But one wonders if maybe “Metabolic” could’ve used a dose of the weird.” The track is brutal and pounding after a full album of the most brutal, pounding songs most people had ever heard at the time, and while predecessor “New Abortion” feels gross in its brutality, and follow-up “Iowa” is full-on far-out, “Metabolic” is nestled in there like a stone in your shoe. Not a bad track at all, just one with perhaps one brass knuckle too many.
55. “Child of Burning Time” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
A track like “Child of Burning Time” proves why Slipknot’s slower, clean-vocal moments are vital to the band. Yes, singles like “Snuff” can feel a little sugary for serious fans, but this bonus track has some beautiful hard rock chops to it. At the same time, at no point does that mean the sacrifice of kick drum, tremolo picking, or turntable scratch; if anything, those are effortlessly incorporated into the flow of the music, making them perfect background to Taylor’s vocals. We’re genuinely surprised this track isn’t on every radio station all the time.
54. “Circle” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Readers of this list might notice that we are, relatively speaking, pretty hard on Slipknot’s slower, ballad-ish tunes. But “Circle” is an example of why those other tracks deserve such scrutiny. For what it is, “Circle” rules, with its original lyrical concept and piano accents making one think of a dead tree at sunset. Slipknot can pull off a cool campfire song, and do so with great gusto, and it doesn’t have to be angsty or poppy. “Circle” is the Slipknot ballad that creates a learning curve, the outstanding example against which the others should be held.
53. “The Shape” (Iowa, 2001)
Nothing like a track that opens with Corey Taylor bellowing, “DESTROY!” “The Shape” is a churlish, nasty deep cut from 2001’s Iowa, with the band going as full-on death metal as they can. While it’s unfortunately not about Michael Myers, the song does have a swollen burliness to it that some other Slipknot tracks could stand to learn from. That it comes after “Left Behind,” the album’s big MTV single, is especially awesome — it feels as though Slipknot drew fans in with that song, and then served them up a plate of hydraulic trenchfoot for the main course.
52. “Scissors” (Slipknot, 1998)
For all their sweaty vitriol, what made Slipknot unique was their scary, disturbing core, and “Scissors” shows that off with complete abandon. Where most metal bands try to fill every empty space, this track plays with the void, Joey Jordison’s double bass rolls and Thomson and Root’s riffs floating in oily space before uniting in a seething clash. And then there’s the closing chant of, “Biding my time until the time is right,” which builds in tension before erupting in a traumatic rush of gibbering and bellows. While the rest of the world heard “Wait and Bleed,” the metal community heard “Scissors,” and knew they’d found one of their own.
51. “Orphan” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
Sure, Corey Taylor is very present on “Orphan,” but this time he definitely takes a backseat to the phalanx around him. Mick Thomson and Jim Root are doing some deeply menacing shit with their riffs here, Craig Jones and Sid Wilson inject that extra bit of terror behind the ground-and-pound, and the three-headed Weinberg-Clown-Tortilla drum monster is just assaults the listener with superhuman strength. In truth, “Orphan” could be an instrumental track and only lose some of the power it wields — which is unique, given how often #8’s lyrics tend to be the focus of the band’s bigger tracks.
50. “If Rain Is What You Want” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
There’s something really compelling about Slipknot’s more metallic ballads. “If Rain Is What You Want” falls alongside “Vermilion” in that way, brimming with of sadness and heartache while still giving Jim Root and Chris Fehn room to make an unholy racket. Though a little, let’s say, embroidered with its poetry and melancholy, the track still brings enough of the band’s broken-doll spleen to put it ahead of some of its peers. Definitely one for a breakup mixtape.
49. “Opium For The People” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
You gotta love this one just for its mischievous, sneaking-around rhythm. “Opium of the People” is a weird song, but its jaunty skipping pace feels entrenched in the artistic experimentation on Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, which often errs on the side of either emotionally gored or punkishly in-your-face. That said, Corey’s clean-vocaled lyrics help, and the ‘Sacrament, sacrilege’ breakdown in the middle adds a nice concrete foundation to an otherwise bizarre side of Slipknot. Proof that this band can really do anything.
48. “Eeyore” (Slipknot, 1998)
“Eeyore” was just too good a track to remain secret. Originally the hidden song at the end of “Scissors” on the ‘98 self-titled album, it was eventually given its own track on the 10th anniversary edition of the record. One can hear why in the song’s utter rancor, most notably in Corey Taylor’s performance; the vocalist bellowing, “I am the great big mouth!” with disgusting abandon and ending with a complete and total breakdown. The tangible anguish on the track made it a fan favorite, and so the band brought this malformed attic child down to meet the rest of its dysfunctional family.
47. “Me Inside” (Slipknot, 1998)
‘All over the place’ is usually a negative description, but for this track from Slipknot’s 1998 self-titled album, it’s a compliment. “Me Inside” feels like an escaped asylum patient barreling down a hallway and trailing IV tubes and restraint shreds. Sid Wilson and Craig Jones get a moment of spotlight here, with turntable scratches and distorted samples providing much of the track’s frantic, slippery atmosphere. The song is also a telling statement on Slipknot’s entire catalog — most bands would kill to write something this honest, and yet it falls down in the 40s on this list. Go figure.
46. “Get This” (Slipknot, 1998)
“You suck, they suck/Guess what, get fucked/I can’t think of any other words to say but ‘Fuck!’” Poetry. A precursor to Iowa’s “I Am Hated,” “Get This” is Slipknot’s punk song, a speedy, hilarious rant against all other bands in the world. The sentiment is one that the nine-piece spoke to early on, publicly stating that if they had to listen to any band, they’d listen to Slipknot. While now part of the vast catalog of bonus tracks in the Iowans’ collection, this song is perfect for those who can only take so many lyrics about heartbreaking mental illness. Get ready to cackle.
45. “Welcome” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
A band with three drummers better be able to drive a song with rhythm alone, and “Welcome” proves that Slipknot are up to the task. Every instrument on this track is a percussive one, used to support the convulsing rhythm that runs throughout. Even the solos in the middle are extra unhinged, sporting that Kerry King horse-whinny vibe to them, as though Root and Thomson are trying to match their rhythm section shot for shot. As far as extended drum solos go, this one is as killer as it gets, and once again reminds skeptics that yes, oh yes, there does need to be nine people on that stage.
44. “All Hope Is Gone” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
Hell YES. After “Snuff,” fans listening to All Hope Is Gone in 2008 were worried about where the record was going, but the closing title track ended things on a wonderfully pissed-off note. Misanthropic and blast-beat driven, “All Hope Is Gone” feels as though the band were saving the best for last, ending on a haymaker of positivity by way of crushing realism. The gang-vocals screams of the chorus also give off a sense of unity, as though every one of the nine, every maggot in their bedroom, was leaning their head back and crying out to the heavens at once. A perfect title for a song that makes us believe in Slipknot forever.
43. “Critical Darling” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
Many Slipknot songs include abstract commentary on the band’s constant scrutiny by the media, but “Critical Darling” seems to confront the topic head-on. The beauty, of course, is that the track can be interpreted in different ways — is the mirror Corey sings about being held up by the press, or by a darling of his own in whom he sees his flaws? Backed by Thomson and Root’s heart-racing blackened riffs, the track shows that Slipknot can juggle nuance and viciousness with ease, and create something awesome in doing so.
42. “Only One” (Slipknot, 1998)
For all their latter-day vulnerability, Slipknot’s 1999 self-titled album is a real chest-beater, exuding a male rage bordering on the unhealthy. “Only One” is this personified, its white-boy rap verses coupled with furious, fumbling connecting tissue. Then there’s the chorus, forsaking invitations to step up or see what happens for the simple declaration, “Only one of us walks away.” The lyric is indicative of Slipknot’s core tenet: they may be weird and gross and unusual and easy to make fun of it, but try to mess with them and they’ll fuck your severed head in the street.
41. “Solway Firth” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
Sure, the intro to “Solway Firth” makes one wonder why Corey Taylor decided he’s from every country in the UK at once. But when the closer of 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind kicks, it does so right in your sternum. Vengeful and final, the song is a perfect album-ender, combining the melodic emotionality and no-fucks-given anger of the tracks before it into a fist slammed on the table. Though perhaps not as sprawling or weird as the band has gone with closing tracks in the past, “Solway Firth” certainly brings a fitting end to this epic chapter in Slipknot’s discography.
40. “Iowa” (Iowa, 2001)
Every band needs an epic, and for Slipknot that will always be “Iowa”, the title track of their career-changing 2001 album. Clocking in at over 15 minutes, the song is a long-form examination of the intestinal loathing and broken desire that colors all of Slipknot’s music. While some might think that the band’s strength comes from their short, sharp shocks, this track proves that these guys can hold their own against time travelers like Neurosis and Rwake any day. That the track opens with the words, “Relax, it’s over” feels like an especially sick joke towards the end.
39. “Killpop” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
At the end of the day, “Killpop” is exactly what it claims to be — an infectious, singalong track about hands closing around a throat. While the song has an atmosphere of sentimentality about it, it’s also a Slipknot track, so that its candy coating is made of sex fluids and hate sweat (as though one would expect nothing less from Des Moines’ finest). As such, it’s both the closest the band ever got to a true pop tune and a Slayer-level fuck-you to anyone who would ever want to put them on the radio.
38. “New Abortion” (Iowa, 2001)
“New Abortion” was a precursor to tracks like “Nero Forte,” in that it was a non-single that fans instilled with larger life than some might expect. Ugly in its anger and driven by some especially horrific-yet-inspirational lyrics on Corey’s part, the track is a mixture of body-horror loather and mosh-pit stomper, appealing to both the muck-hearted and the chapped. The cental chorus line of “You can’t take my soul away from me” is also core to Slipknot’s ethos, that the individual’s spirit can’t be stolen no matter how hard the world tries. This is where the line is drawn.
37. “Sarcastrophe” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
“Sarcastrophe” is the perfect true opening song to The Gray Chapter — a return to the band’s roots without sacrificing any of their growth, all wrapped up in a shroud of unhealthiness. This track sounds like the specter of Death shoved the band that made Iowa back into their seats, letting them know that despite their powerful dysfunction, they too were mortal. The riffs groan miserably, the melodies exude a minor-chord displeasure — it’s all so deeply uncomfortable in its brutality, putting the nine’s turmoil and vulnerability on display for the whole fucking world to see.
36. “Three Nil” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Man, is it possible to hear that opening — WHRRRR dun dun dun, na-nanna-na — and not start beating your chest like some sort of primal cultist? “Three Nil” is another unexpected gem for Slipknot, a hook-less track that on paper shouldn’t be the massive fan favorite it is. With a healthy dose of frenetic mathcore and some fan Easter eggs — gotta love Corey’s “Eeyore” throwback by calling himself ‘the Great Big Mouth’ — the song is a powerful declaration for a band on their third huge release who everyone thought were going to just dissolve in a cloud of gimmicks. The message is clear: we’re three albums in, and we’re not going anywhere.
35. “Gematria (The Killing Name)” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
“The time of the nine has begun/Get out of the way or you will suffer as one!” The opening track of 2008’s All Hope Is Gone — named after the Hebrew concept of alphanumerical assignments representing broader concepts — is the Slipknot battle cry, a no-holds-barred stampede. With the renewed confidence of a band that had somehow survived for ten years after they broke into the mainstream, this nine-headed nightmare declared their dominance with a thrashy, unsympathetic blast of fury, the kind of remorseless pride that could only occur, fester, and thrive in the heartland of America. So many of Slipknot’s tracks are layered with emotional abstraction, but this one spells things out pretty clearly: you’re in our world now.
34. “Left Behind” (Iowa, 2001)
Listening to it now, it’s hilarious to think that “Left Behind” was Slipknot’s debut single from 2001’s Iowa. Those around the band must have seen the similarities between this track and 1999’s breakout hit “Wait and Bleed”, what with their clean/harsh vocal dichotomy and infectious melody. But “Left Behind” is leagues sicker than “Wait…”, and exudes much more of the biting, hopeless attitude that is now considered the band’s trademark. Even the video, featuring Slipknot playing in an overcast swamp (and some kid — it was a nu-metal video, there was always some damn bullied ki), seems like a sneer at MTV, daring them to show the world what the polished rap-metal scene was giving way to.
33. “742617000027” (Slipknot, 1998)
How did a sample/intro track crack the Top 40 of Slipknot’s greatest songs? Because it’s a career-defining moment in the band’s history that would forever color their public persona. “742617000027”’s shrieking noise overlaid with the warped, repeated sample of, “THE WHOLE THING, I THINK IT’S SICK” immediately let everyone know that this band of costumed goons weren’t just here to endear wannabe suburban dudes, they were steeped in noise, outrage, and the boiling subconscious beneath America’s flimsy mask. All it took was thirty-six seconds for Slipknot to make you afraid of them.
32. “AOV” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
So much of .5: The Gray Chapter is a clammy cavern of mourning over bassist Paul Gray. But “AOV” feels like the other side of the coin, a flash of rage that comes out of this sadness. The lyrics feel aimed bout at Gray’s drug use and at the band for not doing something sooner; a line like “Put on your face and show me why/Behind the scenes we had to simply comply” breaks the listener’s heart when considered in the context of this album’s creation. When Slipknot are sad and disgusted, they often wrap themselves in metaphor and experimentation, but when they’re actually upset, their true face comes screaming to the surface.
31. “Prosthetics” (Slipknot, 1998)
There are a handful of songs that make Slipknot scary, and “Prosthetics” might have been the first. Seasick and psychedelic, the track relies on nine guys puking their feelings at once, with each instrument sounding nastier and sweatier than the last. Even Craig Jones, normally the terrifying silent party of the band, can be heard in the tinny screams that back the song’s most unhinged sections. All the while, Taylor sings like he’s underwater, until the chorus has him smacking the side of his head and regretting the terrible decision at the core of the track. What a psychopath would listening to while jacking off.
30. “Birth of the Cruel” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
One might not think of Slipknot’s slower songs as being terribly mosh pit-appropriate, but “Birth of the Cruel” proves this idea wrong. Grunge-y and mid-paced, the song has a pendulous swing to it that’s made for lunge-stomping across a beer-slick floor. Meanwhile, the bass-heavy verses are sweaty tension builders, which lead to the dam-break of the chorus. The result is a song one can’t help but want to move to. Busted nose? Wipe it on your face.
29. “Vermilion” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Slipknot’s lovesick moments usually go one of two directions — either you get a gush of pure hatred or a mire of emotional ache. But “Vermilion” is somehow both and neither, a crushing, pining track about being scared of one’s own obsession. Moments of haunted-house spookiness and melancholic guitar give the song romantic undertones, but the percussion behind them is as punishing as ever. Corey Taylor’s singalong chorus of “I won’t let this build up inside of me” is finally offset with his tearful bellows of “She isn’t real! I can’t make her real!” A new definition of ‘lovesick.’
28. “Vendetta” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
The power of “Vendetta” is that of Slipknot’s live show. This mid-paced skipper from 2008’s All Hope Is Gone smacks of the Pied Piper, inviting fans with its very bounce and roll to come charging to the front and bang their heads against the stage. The fact that the main line of the chorus is, “Are you ready for the time of your life?” followed by a trampoline chant-along seems to confirm this, with Slipknot summoning one and all to become “another fucking accident, out of control.” In this way, it might be the closest thing the nine have to a feel-good track, stoking the flames inside the hearts of all the cave-dwellers and maniacs out there.
27. “Tattered & Torn” (Slipknot, 1998)
It makes sense that “Tattered & Torn” is one of the tracks that immigrated from the band’s official first release Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat., because it illustrates what Slipknot were maybe supposed to be from in their earliest incarnation. Crazed and disharmonious, swaying wildly and screeching in the listener’s ear, the track is a dizzying display of how the band were always trying to push the envelope of what a typical rock fan was able to appreciate. You gotta wonder if other record execs heard this song and wondered what Roadrunner VP Monte Conner was thinking signing these nine dudes, but here we are now, writing about “Tattered & Torn” and not any of others bands’ hit singles.
26. “The Negative One” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
Slipknot had something to prove after the death of bassist Paul Gray and the departure of founding drummer Joey Jordison. But “The Negative One” shut all the doubters up real quick with its blazing, tireless rattle and blast. Between its nonstop beat, Corey Taylor’s inward-turned lyrics, and the spastic DJ scratching of Sid Wilson, the track feels like Slipknot reduced to its most vital parts, an emotional explosion of rusted wrenches, divorce papers, and spit. This was a moment where everyone expected the Iowans to fall on their faces, and instead they stood firm and got right up in yours.
25. “Eyeless” (Slipknot, 1998)
Even as career-long Slipknot fans, we gotta wonder: what the fuck is going on with “Eyeless?” Is this track a commentary on Hollywood, or the band’s attempts to reconcile their small-town upbringing with their massive dreams? Most importantly, how can a track that feels so bizarre and mysterious be this enthralling? From the first bare-bones beat into the hideous meathead riffs at the song’s opening, “Eyeless” grips the listener, immediately thrusting them into the world of these nine jumpsuited men. Guess it just takes the right kind of eyes.
24. “I Am Hated” (Iowa, 2001)
Nothing’s more fun than Slipknot when they’re feeling punchy. Though 2001’s Iowa showed the nine-piece delving into much more traditionally metal territory, it also included their venomous, snickering dis track, “I Am Hated.” The song is a proud declaration that these guys were not the macho, radio-friendly rap-rock bands they were being lumped in with, made clear by Corey Taylor lyrics like, “They all lost their dad or their wife just died or they never got to go outside/Shut up/Nobody gives a fuck/It doesn’t change the fact that you suck.” Of course, all this rancor is set to a party-along bounce riff, showing that Slipknot can shit all over you while making your genre of music sound better than you ever could.
23. “Custer” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
If any track on .5: The Gray Chapter feels like an honest expression of where Slipknot were after the death of bassist Paul Gray, it’s “Custer.” The song is a venomous full release, the band turning their rage towards the place it hits the hardest: themselves. The chorus of “Cut, cut, cut me up/Fuck, fuck, fuck me up” comes off as rabid command, begging the world at large to finally put these nine, tortured maniacs out of their misery. It’s no wonder this one got nominated for a Grammy, though one does wonder who on the Academy voted for it.
22. “Diluted” (Slipknot, 1998)
Slipknot’s massive success is impressive, but it also means that some of their brightest gems remain buried. “Diluted” is track 12 of the band’s 1999 self-titled debut, and yet it’s one of the album’s most enthralling, infectious, and straight-up honest songs. A grungy thrash riff gives way to Fehn and Crahan’s march-to-the-gallows drum beats, propelling Taylor into an ever-deeping whirlpool of anxiety, until he spews the chorus line, “What the Hell did I do to deserve all of this?” A song worth revisiting, because once you do, you won’t be able to stop listening to it.
21. “Disasterpiece” (Iowa, 2001)
“I want to slit your throat and fuck the wound.” Never forget that Slipknot began a song with this lyric on 2001’s Iowa, as though worried opener “People = Shit” wouldn’t scare off enough of the macho fratboys and wannabe gangsters. “Disasterpiece” also showcases the band going all-in on blastbeats, Joey Jordison filling the chorus with a nonstop racket of black metal drum fills. Overall, it might be Slipknot’s hardest song if not their heaviest, a metal-plated berserker that seeks only to alienate and destroy. What can we say — people make noises when they’re sick.
20. “Spit It Out” (Slipknot, 1998)
“Spit It Out” is probably Slipknot at their most mainstream rap-rock, and it’s the track that got them their deal with Roadrunner Records. But to this day, it is a punchy, in-your-face example of how the hip-hop flavored metal of the time could still be uniquely heavy, with Corey’s gibbering and Mick’s riffs sounding distinctly more underground than gangsta. At the same time, this track is undeniably the band’s interpretation of that genre at that time, complete with its own ‘Jump the fuck up’ moment at live shows. There’s a reason Slipknot were considered nu metal — but there’s also a reason they outlived the genre.
19. “The Devil In I” (.5: The Gray Chapter, 2014)
The whole of 2014’s .5: The Grey Chapter lives in the roiling emotional hurricane of Slipknot losing bassist Paul Grey to addiction. “The Devil In I” sounds like the band attempting to embody that harrowing atmosphere in a single track. Overcast and heartbroken, “The Devil In I” posseses a hard-hitting anger feels like it has a purpose, while Corey Taylor’s clean vocals sound more pained than polished. Though the main single on an album showing Slipknot’s more streamlined new direction, the song remains a milestone of aggression in their career, illustrating just how ugly it gets when the maniac hive mind loses one of their own.
18. “The Nameless” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Slipknot’s recurring theme of love as a sick form of possession reaches its frenzied, nihilistic peak on “The Nameless,” an often-unsung and absolutely devastating deep cut from 2004’s Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. With its seizure-inducing staccato verses, multiple-personality vocals, and groovily honest chorus — “I never wanted anybody more than I wanted you/The only thing I ever really loved…was HATE” — this song is a beautiful nightmare, an eruption of every unfair and abusive emotion that comes out of finding the one person who makes you crazier than you ever thought you could be. So incomprehensibly repulsive, they literally couldn’t give it a name.
17. “Wait And Bleed” (Slipknot, 1998)
“Wait and Bleed” was the first Slipknot song most people ever heard, which is a telling statement about what the band considered a ‘single’ upon first emerging. The track’s chorus is undoubtedly catchy as fuck, but the melody at the song’s core only works against the backdrop of the band’s poetic dysfunction. While their peers were rapping about trim and Molly, these nine puke-caked stuntmen were having a melodious shitfit over clearing the stone of leaves and wondering if this was a dream or a memory. Plenty of songs get stuck in a listener’s head; this band burrowed deep, and made people sick.
16. “Before I Forget” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Anyone who listened to Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses when it first dropped heard “Before I Forget” and immediately recognized a huge single. The song has a catchiness to it that’s undeniable, its central riff and vocal pattern bringing the listener along whether they like it or not. Taylor’s lyrics are also life-affirming (in a Slipknot-ish way), making this an anthem for those who listened to it. That plus the infamous ‘unmasked’ video leant a humanity to Slipknot that the band were aching for after two albums behind the mask. Sometimes, even the slashers needs to step out of the shadows.
15. “Unsainted” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
So often, Slipknot are a circus — what if this time around, they’re a church? This horrifying concept runs thick throughout the anti-religious power of “Unsainted,” the massive first single from 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind. Corey Taylor’s opening vocals make him sound like a lonely choir boy, and then he summons an inverted cathedral out of the ground with the help of a chorus of ghosts. With the entire world’s eyes on them, Slipknot had to make sure they served 2019 something big, scary, and new; with “Unsainted,” they did not disappoint. This is their body, this is their blood.
14. “Pulse of the Maggots” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Usually a band writing a song about their fans includes cliched lyrics about putting your hands in the air, and how they wouldn’t be here without you guys, and all that dogshit. With “Pulse of the Maggots,” Slipknot wrote from the point of view of their fanbase, a body of people whose anger and pain leads not to disenfranchisement but to motivation. Not only does this set the maggots apart from most fanclubs, it puts Slipknot in a class of their own as well, believing in the potential of their followers, their ability to fight against society at large. The whole thing is summed up with a single rallying cry against the apathy of the world: “And if I lose, at least I tried!”
13. “The Blister Exists” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Put this one on for the right crowd and watch the whole room break into that drum solo. 2004’s Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses was a huge album for Slipknot, but opening it with this track was a ballsy move, given how many eyes were on them (and how catchy and friendly many of the record’s other cuts are). Slipknot come out of the gate like the undead carny drum line they’d always been alluding to, so comfortable in their sound that they’re willing immediately thrust it in your face in its most abrasive form. A rare moment where Fehn and Crahan take the front seat and show exactly why this band wouldn’t be the same without them.
12. “Liberate” (Slipknot, 1998)
If “Spit It Out” is Slipknot at their most rap-metal, then “Liberate” is them at their most ‘core. The track is quick on its feet, alternating between bare-bones drumming and almost breezy riffs. Here, Corey Taylor shows off not just his signature snarl, but also his incredible vocal delivery patterns, using each syllable to help propel “Liberate”‘s unstoppable speed. As a result, the track feels like a pit you can’t find your way out of, but which you finally dive back into with reckless abandon. Go listen to this song — you’ve forgotten how much you absolutely love it.
11. “My Plague” (Iowa, 2001)
Listen to “My Plague” and you can hear seeds, not just of Slipknot’s future material but of the turning of metal as a whole. Yes, the track’s mixture of punishing groan and beautiful clean vocals would inform so many of the band’s releases from thereon out, proving to everyone that an injection of pop sensibility into this roiling noise could succeed beautifully. But their guitar tone is also pure slam, and reminds one of the current crop of ultra-heavy new bands like Vein and Code Orange, whose designations of ‘modern nu-metal’ so often hearken back to a song like this. Today we see “My Plague”’s root system across the entire genre, but in 2001 it was just a beautiful seed pod unfolding at a killing pace.
1o. “Nero Forte” (We Are Not Your Kind, 2019)
It’s awesome when an album drops and the public demands one song get its due. Such was the case with “Nero Forte” off of 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind, an instant fan favorite that put its bootprint in the minds of all who heard it. Thomson and Root’s twin guitar work instantly latches onto the listener’s heart, while Taylor’s mixed clean and harsh vocals are intertwined masterfully (fuck, how good is that sliding “TOOOOO much animosity” in the second chorus?). Slipknot can obviously write big radio singles when they want to, but this time they just decided to write a crush-kill-destroy metal track, and the maggots did the rest.
9. “Sulfur” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
By All Hope Is Gone, Slipknot were wrestling with hitting a balance between their extreme metal stomachache and their ultra-tasty hard-rock march. The perfect meeting of these is “Sulfur,” a track that feels like it learned from Iowa while never pretending that it could be on that record. The whole band’s at work here — Sid’s DJ flickers, Shawn and Chris’s clanging breakdown, Mick’s sweet serpentine solo wiling its way through the middle — and yet it doesn’t sound like the unglued racket of previous releases. This is Slipknot as a unified force, not simply making noise but writing a song, and it shows.
8. “The Heretic Anthem” (Iowa, 2001)
“Nobody wants anything I’ve got — which is fine, because you’re made of everything I’m not!” That line alone makes “The Heretic Anthem” a banner that Slipknot will always wave high and fast. The track epitomizes the Iowans’ gut-deep sense of being that while the rest of the world drools over this. The concept fills every crevice of 2001’s Iowa, a record made to seemingly cast off the shackles of the refined, macho world of nu metal. In that respect, this song is one of the band’s most life-affirming, even as it crushes the listeners bones with double-bass rolls and obese riffs. Crunch the numbers.
7. “Psychosocial” (All Hope Is Gone, 2008)
It’s good to sometimes remember that one of Slipknot’s most vital minds is a clown. “Psychosocial” moves at a circus pace, evoking an image of the most horrible parade making its way to the most stained bigtop tent imaginable. The delicious accents, pauses, and gang-bellowed chants of the title feel like the soundtrack to twirling acrobats and lunging fire-breathers, all with masks sewn to their faces and used condoms stuck to their feet. Even the Mick Thomson’s whirling solo in the middle has an atmosphere of total entertainment to it. An unforgettable earworm, the track will forever make 2008’s unorthodox All Hope Is Gone one of the most vital albums in the band’s recorded freak show. Roll up, roll up!
6. “People = Shit” (Iowa, 2001)
Ever heard a band reinvent themselves in six seconds? With the opening of “People = Shit,” the first song off of 2001’s inconquerable Iowa (happy birthday, you beautiful bastard), Slipknot managed to rip down and piss on the shallow rap-rock banner under which so many critics had placed them. Instead, they revealed a mixture of death metal, noise, sludge, and million-ton drops that put even the heaviest rap beats and electronica to shame. References to Satan and violence abound, all tied together by the band’s patented slogan, which before smacked of suburban petulance and now took on the full brunt of its misanthropy. You can’t be everything to everyone.
5. “All Out Life”
On Halloween of 2018, Slipknot decided to let the world know that they were back, and had no time for fucking around. This came in the form of “All Out Life,” a standalone track that no only gushed with the nine’s inimitable power and darkness, but which confronted their legendary status with a scowl. Rather than try to recapture their glory days, Slipknot seem to be throwing old photographs into a burning trash can, with Corey Taylor sounding more like #8 than ever as he thunders, “Old does not mean dead/New does not mean best” (he even seems to address the ol’ ‘What does Corey Taylor think?’ meme by barking, “I’m tired of being right about everything I’ve said!”). Though the track would not appear on 2019’s We Are Not Your Kind, it did supply the album with its title — and honestly, with a song this goddamn awesome, no surrounding album was even needed. No excuses.
4. “Everything Ends” (Iowa, 2001)
What places “Everything Ends” so high on this list is its humanity. Most of the time, Slipknot’s songs appear to be about, well, everything — belief, disgust, society, the mind, that dead animal you saw on the side of the road. But this track off of 2001’s Iowa is very much from one person to another, and as such takes the detached grandeur out of things and puts the listener right in the sweaty, unsure body of the protagonist. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s any less apocalyptic — if anything, Corey Taylor screaming, “This is the end of everything, you are the end of everything” is a more tangible collapse than any heralded horseman or mushroom cloud, a downfall everyone knows too well.
3. “[sic]” (Slipknot, 1998)
If you became a metal fan anywhere between 1999 and 2002, you memorized every single word of this song. The opening cut from the band’s gigantic 1998 self-titled release, “[sic]” introduced the world to a new kind of band, a hydra of anguish, gut instinct, and experimentation, that instantly stood on a pedestal that your average rap-rock outfit would never reach. This searing blast of death metal, groove, and mathcore changed the game the minute it hit listeners’ ears, asking the important question, ‘Why listen to one band when you can listen to what sounds like every band ever, having sex with each other in the alley out back?’ Press your face against the glass, SUFFER.
2. “Duality” (Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses, 2004)
Let’s put flowery music journalist language aside and just say it: “Duality” is perfect. The lyrics are smart, the riffs are beautiful, that insane DENK when Clown hits the keg is rad as fuck, and each chorus kick is better than the last. It’s a song both musically and lyrically about what every metal fan has felt at some point in their lives, sitting on a curb or bench or hill with their head down and wondering how the Hell they’re going to get through this, again. This is a song you want to sing, whether you’re in your bedroom mirror or in a bar with all of your friends. It’s a song you could listen to on repeat for days. It’s perfect. End of story.
- “Surfacing” (Slipknot, 1998)
It’s almost baffling how a band can write one of the most scathing, vengeful songs of the late ‘90s — and have it be more relevant today than ever. “Surfacing” sounds almost barbaric next to any of Slipknot’s latter-day singles, but what it lacks in the band’s more recent nuance and poetics, it makes up for with its unadulterated bile. The haunting guitar spasms, pounding drums, and record scratches of the intro give way to music that sounds like two nightmares grinding their scabs against each other, while Corey Taylor sounds like someone taped a microphone to his head during a panic attack. The end result is the ultimate expression of the push that makes you move, that side of one’s self that has finally decided, you know what, fuck it all, fuck this world, fuck everything that you stand for. All rise for what is still your new national anthem.
Words by Chris Krovatin