I remember the hype building for Slipknot’s sophomore album. The Iowa nontet had already made an impression with their 1999 self-titled debut and live performances on that year’s Ozzfest so the stakes were really high for album number two. I remember reading interviews during the writing process where the only song title released was “People=Shit”. I remember getting a cassette single (A cassingle! Remember those?) for “The Heretic Anthem” and playing it over and over. I remember seeing the new boiler suits and masks debuted in an issue of Kerrang! Magazine.I remember when they were on Late Night with Conan O’Brien performing “The Heretic Anthem” and scaring everyone who watched.
I especially remember August 28th, 2001.
The record store I worked at still played heavy offensive music on a regular basis and even though I woke up with a migraine, I was excited to get to work. I came in for a 2 0’clock shift just as the last few bars of album closer “Iowa” played out, I was sad, but my boss assured me that we would be playing it again later in the evening. And we did. And it was marvelous to hear through the speakers in the store as #8 belted out lyrics like “I wanna slit your throat and fuck the wound/I wanna push my face in and feel the swoon…”. Ah, memories. I purchased the vinyl (Even though I didn’t and still don’t own a record player.) and CD version of Iowa and listened to it on my discman during my Boston to North Quincy T commute and subsequent walk to my apartment. Still with a migraine. I’m a dedicated fan. Those who know me know how true that statement is.
Produced by Ross Robinson, Iowa was the next logical step in the evolution of Slipknot. Heavier, faster and even more melodic in spots, it was a tour-de-force. From the minute the maelstrom of “(515)” into the first 20-seconds of “People=Shit” started, you knew you were in for a wild ride. Everything is better on Iowa. #1 proved why he’s one of the most sought after metal drummers (He went on to do stints with Ministry, Metallica, and Rob Zombie during the ‘knot’s downtime….), #8 growled more ferociously than ever before, the dueling #4 and #7 shredded with more intensity…quite simply put, everything was turned to 11.
In “People=Shit”, Slipknot had managed to birth a more brutal opener than “(sic)”. In “Left Behind”, they created a more anthemic yet heavy single than anything on Slipknot. And in “Iowa” they managed to craft a song that is almost as creepy as Slayer’s “Dead Skin Mask”. At 14 tracks, it’s also a pretty long but very diverse as is the case with “Gently” (A resurrected song from the indie Mate.Feed.Kill.Repeat release with their old vocalist) which splits up the album and features some great performances from #2 and his lumbering bass.
Ten years on and the nine are down to eight after the death of bassist Paul Gray in 2010 but the legacy lives on as this past summer even saw them perform live together for the first time since his passing. There’s also promise of a US tour sometime in 2012 but for the moment we have the deluxe 10th anniversary reissue of Iowa (That is why we’re all here, right?) which features the entire album, a 2nd disc of the audio from the Disasterpieces DVD and a 3rd disc featuring a brand new documentary entitled Goat detailing the recording and touring surrounding Iowa directed by #6.
Iowa: 10th Anniversary Edition is out now on Roadrunner Records.