With the new Slipknot album coming out sometime this year, we thought now was as good of time as any to rank the band’s studio discography. You may recall that we ranked the band’s discography in the past, but that ranking excluded the band’s 2019 album We Are Not Your Kind. This list will consist of all six Slipknot albums (at the time of this writing).
As with every list, the goal of this ranking effort is to look at what albums stand out as the strongest among the band’s discography, as well as to shine a light on what albums best represent the band today. Of course, this is our own personal ranking and it may differ from your own. Without further ado, let’s go over our list of Slipknot albums, ranked from worst to best. What do you think is the best Slipknot album?
6. .5: The Gray Chapter
Released in 2014, .5: The Gray Chapter is the first Slipknot album to not include both bassist Paul Gray and drummer Joey Jordison; Alessandro Venturella took over for bass, with Jay Weinberg taking over for drums. While The Gray Chapter has its fair share of bangers, it also feels like an album that is a tad all over the place. Whereas other Slipknot albums have either leaned in hard towards one musical style, or have done a solid job balancing multiple styles – The Gray Chapter feels like a lot was thrown together without much sense of flow, pacing, and tone. It is a record with good bits, but ultimately, it struggles as a whole to make for a completely fulfilling experience.
5. Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)
Another Slipknot album that has a similar issue is that of the band’s 2004 record, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses). We rank this album a little higher due to it offering much more consistency in terms of style and compositional tone from track to track – but in that consistency, it lacks such bite. Once again, we find a Slipknot album with some great bangers, but there are multiple points where the emotional ferocity dips. That said, while there are those dipping periods, The Subminimal Verses does represent an important point for the band – where they would start to further expand upon their artistry.
4. All Hope Is Gone
A big testament to Slipknot’s greater artistry is that of All Hope Is Gone. This record marks the last studio album that the late Paul Gray would take part in creating. On All Hope Is Gone, Slipknot take much of the slower, moodier elements heard on The Subliminal Verses and create a truly intriguing and fascinating work of emotional atmosphere. There are still several moments of aggressive cuts, but this album represents what more the band are capable in creating. In a lot of ways, The Subliminal Verses feels like a “radio heavy” sort of safe – whereas All Hope Is Gone is a more daring kind of heavy for a mainstream heavy metal band like Slipknot.
The debut album from Slipknot is easily one of the strongest releases from the band. In the ’90s, while other nu metal bands were coming out – there was no one who provided such a level of sonic ferocity is that of Slipknot. Let alone that their whole costumed look captured the attention of heavy metal listeners, their music was a whole other level of crushing. The debut Slipknot album is a work of pure chaos; from the compositional structure of individual songs, to the frenzied stylization of sound – the album is a work of metal madness.
2. We Are Not Your Kind
To go from the band’s 1999 self-titled debut to the most recent 2019 album might be quite a jarring jump to some. That said, we genuinely believe that We Are Not Your Kind is sincerely one of the best Slipknot albums the band has ever made. Primarily because, while it pulls from the sonic madness of the band’s debut album and 2001’s Iowa, We Are Not Your Kind also makes for a refined take on Slipknot’s constant efforts (successful and not), to further expand upon their artistry. The Subliminal Verses, All Hope Is Gone, and The Gray Chapter each offer promising elements to them (some which stand out more than others); ultimately, each record displays a push from the band to become more – a desire to build upon their sonic and creative palette. We Are Not Your Kind is the best of those three records, while also weaving in the best of the band’s first two albums. It is an extraordinary take on aggressive and heavy art, providing a fluid experience of anger and pain.
That said, there is one other Slipknot album that stands out more than this one. It’s a record that you probably won’t be too surprised to hear is our pick for best Slipknot album…
Iowa is a record that defines Slipknot. While we love the greater creativity that is found on records like All Hope Is Gone and We Are Not Your Kind – there is a profoundness to Iowa. The craftsmanship of each track, the grueling tension in each performance, and the thick air of emotion that the band exude… it’s all so chilling and brilliant.
Whereas that 1999 self-titled album offers a tremendous amount of sonic chaos, there is a deeply eerie, almost horror-like element to that of Iowa. The story behind Iowa‘s creation, in a way, promotes an unhealthy concept of the artist – that tortured artists make the best art. No artist needs to be fucked up to make good art; and yet, when you read about the brutal difficulties and suffering that went into making this Slipknot album – you genuinely feel an aura of wretchedness coming off the music. As the late Joey Jordison put it in a past promotion for this album:
“Iowa will live on forever. It’s one of the, actually I’ll say it: It’s the heaviest and best metal record of all time.”
There are very few heavy metal records that can match the anger and brutal nature of this Slipknot album.
Do you agree with our Slipknot album ranking? What do you think is the best Slipknot album?