.5: The Gray Chapter feels like an emotional tribute to former member and songwriter, Paul Gray, who sadly passed away in 2010. The album combines anger, honesty, frustration and calm reflective moments, which are present on the opening track, XIX, on which machine noises are mixed with Corey Taylor’s voice, whispering “This song is not for the living, this song is for the dead.” This track gets the listener ready for the following track, ‘Sarcastrophe.’
Fortunately, all the concerns among Slipknot fans can be dismissed now. The new mystery drummer and bass player manage to fill the spots left by Gray and Jordison in a great way, perfectly complementing the rest of the band. In addition, the lyrics of the new song (which were mostly written by guitarist, Jim Root) continue with the angry, but deep style of the band. ‘Skeptic’ is one notable example of this rage and sadness, and has Taylor screaming, “The world will never see another crazy MTF like you,” adding later, “I’m definitely not sure if I’ve accepted it”, and ending with, “we are so angry at you, but we love you so much.” The effect on the listener is that the band is screaming to the sky, trying to reach their fallen comrade, Paul Gray.
Slipknot has also included ‘Goodbye’, a beautiful, slow song that feels like it was written to be played especially for Gray’s farewell.
On the other hand, the album also harkens back to the band’s Iowa era, with songs like ‘The Negative One’, ‘The Devil in I’ and ‘Custer’, with the boys making noise like never before.
Overall, .5: The Gray Chapter is a good return, and a crowd pleaser, though diehard fans may need a couple of listens before fully embracing it. Still, one thing is for sure: we will have Slipknot for many more years! Bring it on!