Wednesday, June 2, 2004; Page C05
VOL. 3: THE SUBLIMINAL VERSES
If you're a suburban male between 12 and 21, you most likely have an adamant opinion about Slipknot. The heavy-metal band's uncanny ability to polarize America's youth is intriguing, yet most adults have zero interest.
After all, just look at these hideous clowns. There's like, what, nine or 10 band members, all wearing stupid, grotesque masks? Even scarier, they're from Des Moines!
Behind the gimmick, though, Slipknot is the best nu-metal band on the planet. Produced by Rick Rubin, "Vol. 3" offers more depth than the group's first two face-blasting albums yet still unleashes the frantic energy that propels its maniacal concerts. On "The Blister Exists," it sounds like an entire high-school marching band is pounding out death-metal beats. Such "Subliminal" touches tap directly into the brain of Slipknot's detention-populating fan base, known affectionately as "maggots." And by wearing matching jumpsuits and using numbers for names -- vocalist Corey Taylor is "8" -- Slipknot's members make a point of deglamorizing themselves, almost to the point of interchangeability.
Punishing songs like "Pulse of the Maggots" revel in this communal spirit of angst, but several other tracks ask the kids to grow. Acoustic guitars (blasphemy!) appear on a handful of tunes, and 8, er, Taylor, turns out to be a charismatic singer. If you forget for a moment that this guy is wearing a mask made to resemble sewn-up skin,"Vermilion Pt. 2" is a truly heart-wrenching romantic ballad. And the vocal harmonies on "Danger -- Keep Away" are more vintage Eagles than nu-school Korn.
Fear not, though, maggots: "Vol. 3" is not a mellow album. A maturing Slipknot is simply branching out, using soft moments to make the heavier assaults cut that much deeper. Headbanging grown-ups would be surprised by the lessons taught at this freak show.
-- Michael Deeds
(Slipknot is scheduled to appear July 18 at Nissan Pavilion as part of Ozzfest.)
THE COLD HARD TRUTH
Acollection of songs by Texas honky-tonker Ed Burleson should be on a black vinyl platter, not a high-tech piece of shiny plastic. But we'll take this piece of work, one of the finest country music records of the year, any way we can get it.
Burleson, who lost more than a manager when Doug Sahm died in 1999, may be an unknown quantity outside Shiner Bock territory, but he's distinguished himself in the last 10 years with a small but exceptional recorded output and relentless touring of the Lone Star State with his honky-tonk band. That you don't hear him on commercial country radio says more about Nashville than Burleson.
For "The Cold Hard Truth," producer Tommy Alverson put together a Dallas area team of musicians known only to die-hard fans of Texas music, and the ensemble turns in inspired, sterling instrumentation behind the headliner's singing and songwriting.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Behind the masks, Slipknot is the best nu-metal band in the world, unleashing its frantic energy on "Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses."