(2004) Slipknot – Vol. 3 – The Subliminal Verses: Anniversary Special

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We love clichés because, quite frankly, they are true more often than not. In the music business, one of the most long-lived clichés is that the third studio album of any given band is prone to be an arduous endeavor. Just think about it. The debut is typically a collection of the band’s greatest achievements up to that point and the sophomore effort should still have some of that energy left. By the third endeavor, the well may not be bubbling with new ideas, especially if the shadow side of success has got in the way. In the case of the Des Moines nu-metallers, SLIPKNOT, the notorious third album proved a genuine triumph, although the sessions did initially kick off with a wrong footing. Vocalist Corey Taylor was drinking heavily and the group had mixed opinions about working with producer Rick Rubin. The omens weren’t particularly promising but, perhaps, it was exactly because of all the struggles that the band put out a future album classic, incorporating more traditional, melodic songs – even guitar solos and acoustic instruments. Per aspera ad astra, you know… Bearing the title, “Vol. 3 – The Subliminal Verses,” SLIPKNOT‘s third installment was released on May 25th, 2004, via Roadrunner Records. I reckon it speaks volumes in favor of this outing that I can still remember the occasion when I first saw the music video to “Duality.” The song sure packed a punch. It was one of those tunnel vision experiences, similar to listening to NIRVANA, Jimi Hendrix, or METALLICA for the first time. My initial thought was, “What is this awesome band and where can I get this album ASAP?”

Yeah, I had missed the train completely with their previous two albums. Those who had not weren’t exactly thrilled with the band’s departure from the ”old” sound. A vocal minority dubbed this outing a “sell-out” record, claiming that it was way too reminiscent of STONE SOUR – the arena-rock side-hustle of Taylor and SLIPKNOT guitarist Jim Root that had risen to fame during the downtime between “Iowa” (2001) and this third SLIPKNOT studio effort. Well, I’d say that it took a few more years before it became virtually impossible to tell these two bands apart; in 2004, SLIPKNOT was still a bit heavier. By their fourth studio outing “All Hope Is Gone” (2008), the differences had dissolved as STONE SOUR had significantly geared up on punchy and heavy riffs while SLIPKNOT had mellowed out in equal measure. The foundation of the somewhat softer, new approach was cemented on this album, although the raw and brutal side of the band was still prominently present – lucky for us! This duality (sic!) is perhaps the most important aspect of the album, making it the strongest and most versatile SLIPKNOT offering to date.

Bookended by two haunting, atmospheric pieces – “Prelude 3.0,” and “Danger – Keep Away” – the tracklist reads almost like a list of the band’s greatest hits. There are instant bangers such as “Duality” (the band’s finest moment to date), “Before I Forget,” and “Pulse of the Maggots.” Then, to stir things up a bit, some songs are basically acoustic or semi-acoustic ballads! Songs such as “Circle” and “Vermilion, Pt. 2” are probably the culprits to blame for the accusations of selling out. In a way, “Vol. 3 – The Subliminal Verses” was to SLIPKNOT what the “Black Album” had been to METALLICA back in the day – a giant red flag for the metal puritans and a treasure trove for the rest of us. To be honest, as this album was my entry point to the band’s music, checking out those previous two albums much later, I must admit to having been a bit disappointed. While both efforts sure have much to offer, they sorely lack the diversity of this killer outing. There are no weak moments on this beast! I would even go as far as to claim that SLIPKNOT didn’t top this achievement until “The End, So Far,” in 2022. Then again, I have a soft spot for bands that step outside of their comfort zone. On their third studio endeavor, these metal ruffians sure did – and succeeded in making a straight-up timeless masterpiece.

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. Prelude 3.0
  2. The Blister Exists
  3. Three Nil
  4. Duality
  5. Opium of the People
  6. Circle
  7. Welcome
  8. Vermilion
  9. Pulse of the Maggots
  10. Before I Forget
  11. Vermilion Pt. 2
  12. The Nameless
  13. The Virus of Life
  14. Danger – Keep Away

Lineup

Corey Taylor – vocals

Mick Thomson – guitars

Shawn Crahan – percussion, backing vocals

Craig Jones – samplers, keyboards

Jim Root – guitars

Chris Fehn – percussion, backing vocals

Paul Gray – bass, backing vocals

Joey Jordison – drums, mixing

Sid Wilson – turntables

Label

Roadrunner Records

Links

https://www.facebook.com/slipknot

https://www.instagram.com/slipknot