Slipknot Iowa Retrospective

On August 28, 2001, Slipknot released their sophomore album, Iowa. There was a lot of expectation and high hopes following the release of their self-titled debut in 1999. (Mate, Kill, Feed, Repeat aside) The record executives were looking for something more radio friendly, something more palatable. The boys from the 515 delivered an answer that spat in the face of convention. They would be no one’s puppet. They would not sell out. “All the money in the world can’t buy me.” Oddly enough, that attitude and ferocity endeared fans to the band- their debut album likened them to other nu-metal bands, but Iowa separated them and defied expectations which truly birthed maggots for the long haul.

This day marks the 19th anniversary of Iowa. For me, it really marks my start with the band. Self admittedly, I was not a maggot on the first record. Somehow it flew under my radar. I’ve told this story on the Wanderings and Woolgathering podcast. Basically, I was introduced to the band by my 8th grade student who burned a copy of the record for me. One listen to the insane drums, fierce guitar riffs and truculent lyrics- I was sold and still am.

The beautiful thing about Iowa is that it still stands up today as a tour de force in terms of metal albums. The album digs in emotionally with Sid’s screams over the death of his grandfather on 515 and then doesn’t let up from there. The next five songs: People = Shit, Disasterpiece (amazing drum cam footage here:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4y1HPrKa8I, My Plague, Everything Ends and the Heretic Anthem are arguably the most solid five songs in a row on any album in history. Throw in Gently and Left Behind which follow, and there is no stopping this album. The Shape is aggressive but offers some softer more melodic moments and then I Am Hated takes us back to Self-titled a bit with some rap and dj moments. And then, Skin Ticket- the enigmatic fan favorite. “Come see my cage, built in my grain”- allusion to the state of Iowa or clever word play on “migraine? Don’t know- don’t care- love it! The New Abortion screams for individuality and self actualization. Metabolic- “My demise, I took a life worth living and Made it worth a mockery”- don’t throw it away folks. And finally, Iowa- the behemoth album closer. It has a crazy backstory and an even more crazy recording story. It is the punctuation on the album and indicative of the treasure that Iowa is. Here is a brutal performance of Heretic Anthem on the Conan O’Brien show during the album cycle.

Slipknot has six albums, yet none will compare to Iowa. Self-titled, Vol. 3- Subliminal Verses, All Hope is Gone, .5 the Gray Chapter and WANYK are all excellent albums. All are regularly on my playlist. Jay, V-Man and Tortilla Man are worthy replacements. The Knot will live on and I can’t wait for more “Music for the Maggots!” However, nothing will ever replace the ferocity, the aggression, the lyrics and the magic that is Iowa! Today- August 28- let’s celebrate by cranking Iowa to the Heavens. If you’re 555…..well, you know the rest. Stay Sic my friends.

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