Happy, Peppy & Bursting with Love

Slipknot – Iowa

2001 – Roadrunner Records


What can I say about death-metal superstars Slipknot’s chart-climbing third album, “Iowa?”

Happy, peppy and bursting with love?

Not since I spent an entire weekend locked in a closet listening to Lou Reed’s “Metal Machine Music” have I been so utterly filled with joi de vivre. From the first strains of “People=Shit,” (I feel like a wound / like I got a fuckin’ Gun against my head / you live when I’m dead), I knew that I was in for a treat the likes of which only someone whose ridden Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” ride one time too many can really understand. Slipknot’s music represents all that is positive and life affirming with the younger generation. It’s no wonder that they have to perform masked. Were there real identities known to the public, they’d no doubt be mobbed by crowds looking to enlist their services as motivational speakers. And who could blame them? I mean, with lyrics like Everything EndsWhat the hell am I doing? / Is there anyone left in my life? / Where the hell am I going? / Do I even need a reason to hide? / I am only betrayed / I am only conditioned to die you know that the boys of Slipknot are walking the walk of absolute positivity. Who wouldn’t want some of that in their life?

But don’t get the idea that Slipknot are one-dimensional smiley faces. Like all Positive-acting people who are in control of their own destinies, Slipknot are fully aware of their place in the world, and their responsibility to address the issues of today. They don’t shy away from the issue of abortion, for example, instead choosing to encourage dialogue in a caring, sensitive way, in “New Abortion” (“Sores, every goddamn minute I can feel ’em now / Like a virus, you will never kill me now / How’s it feel to be the New Abortion?). Surely, with lyrics like that, both sides in this contentious question could find some common ground.

And of course, “Iowa” lifts the spirit not merely lyrically, but musically as well. There are certain points which are acknowledged as being “pinnacles” in musical history – the Baroque Era of the 1600’s, as epitomized by Bach, The Classical Era of the 1800’s, as epitomized by Tchaikovsky, and the Death Metal Era, as epitomized by Slipknot. We are indeed fortunate to be living in a time when such creativity flows forth, and this reviewer is not ashamed to admit that he wept openly many times while listening to “Iowa,” Slipknot’s joyous piece de resistance.

From my Off the Record column, China News, 2002

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