While I dissect this album, I will attempt to describe the absolute power and anger expressed throughout , mainly due to the loss of the amazing Paul Gray (R.I.P.). Bare with me while I travel through The Gray Chapter.
1) XIX: This slow, creepy intro is like watching the curtains of a show open slowly. It is a track that lets you brace yourself for what's to come. Lyrically, it sets the tone for this record and what it is all about. It tells us to be strong, whatever may come our way.
2) Sarcastrophe: The song begins peaceful, soothing and serene. The distorted guitars kick in and build you up. You feel the monster awakening. Quick and strong patterns behind the drums set off this song then it's go time. The guitars kick into high gear and pull out deep riffs that make your stomach turn. Corey's scream, first roars and then gives you chills! The harmonies send a chill up your spine and the bass/drum/percussion combo punches you right in the chest! The power of this opener is brutal, and if you don't like this track, might as well toss this album away because THIS is what this album is all about. Brutal power. Jim and Mick's guitars are up at full notch, the drums are blasting away with speed and precision, the bass is slapping away and bursting out of the amps, Sids scratching is skin crawling and bone chilling, 133s samples are as creepy as ever and find a way to follow you into your dreams, Corey's screams are a savage mix of "self-titled Slipknot" era, Iowa, and new-age. Chris and Clown's percussion pump up the brutality with the effects and add a supportive boom. Brace yourself maggots!
3) AOV: Fast and intense. "Approaching Original Violence" describes this song perfectly. The speed is enough to get you head-banging profusely. This song also sheds light on Corey's classic fast screams. Rap screaming? Stuff maggots haven't heard since Iowa. A breath of fresh air indeed.
4) The Devil In I: This tracks begins with the guitar sounding like it's coming up from under water, getting louder and louder, then the beat begins and roars on through. Quick feet and quick hands is what you can grasp from this drummer along the way, and when the vocals are about to start, the song drops down to a crawling sort of vibe. Notes plucked here and there while Corey sings softly with deep lyrics like "Undo these chains, my friend. I'll show the rage I've hidden". The chorus returns to a blast in the face with that opening riff and with such power that you feel it tremble your insides. Powerful.
5) Killpop: This song is gentle, but still powerful at the same time. It seems to talk about a girl who has made some terrible mistakes throughout her life and an observer that feels for her, an observer that wants to help make things better. The music moves around like you are traveling through a story, almost like a soundtrack for this story. I love how the vocals sound in the chorus and the echo effects that are being used when he sings "Maybe I should let her go, but only when she loves me." It's chilling, but you can't help but be attracted to it.
6) Skeptic: The heaviest track on this record in my opinion due to its musical structure, it's lyrical depth. It is pretty obvious that this song is about their brother Paul Gray, and it's a little heartbreaking too. This song, also shows just how human Slipknot is by showing this amount of pain and anger in this track, that anyone can feel this when a loved one passes. For many, it is normal to feel anger during an immense heartache like this. So, rage on Slipknot. Let it all out.
7) Lech: This song starts off strong, loud, and proud. Afterward, it takes a turn and slows down and obtains this creepy-crawly tone. It's reminiscent of their song Purity off of their self-titled album. Throughout this song, it goes back and forth from the intro to that Purity feel. I love the lyrics that echo out "No one is bulletproof" because it is the biggest truth that some try to forget. We are only human. Only mortal. Good, strong tune, this one is.
8) Goodbye: Here is a very heartfelt track which I can only assume is also about the loss of their brother, Paul. It tells/shows us that of all the things in the world, saying "goodbye" is the hardest. It also shows us to be strong and remember all those that we love that have passed. If you have lost a dear loved one in your life before, you can really relate to this songs lyrics throughout. A very deep and moving song. One that might even help those in such a situation as this, and to remember that you are not alone.
9) Nomadic: Quite a bit of strength is apparent in the tone of this song. Strong riffs move this song along with a sturdy backbone of drum beats and fill, meanwhile, the vocal parts are ringing in your ears. Don't forget the technical and melodic guitar solo to go with all this. The meaning behind this song escapes my comprehension, but what I can grasp is that life takes what it wants from us all (correct me if I'm wrong). Nonetheless, powerful throughout.
10) The One That Kills The Least: I spent a while trying to capture the story or meaning behind these lyrics. Maybe I'm just bad at reading between the lines. Anyhow, in my eyes/mind, it's about trust (?), secrets (?). Again, correct me if I'm wrong. Either way, this is a fine track. It sounds like it's standing tall and proud, if that makes sense, and a great chorus to go along with it. I love the piece that says, "I've seen you live, now watch me die". That sounds like something you would say to a long time friend that ended up betraying you in the end. Rough!
11) Custer: I am a mad huge fan of the way this song starts, and I will tell you why. It shows proof that Slipknot still practice and believe in the REAL way of making music. All together in a room collaborating. Ideas going back and forth between band members. None of this emailing riffs or ideas across the country. No. You want to make a record in a band? Then make the record with the band, as a band like Slipknot.
Pressing forward, this is one angry track that we have here. It seems to speak of fighting the system and to never give up, because that is exactly what they want. Know what you're fighting for. Know whom you're fighting for.
12) Be Prepared For Hell: This here is one damn creepy track, and Slipknot sure know how to do it right indeed. It's kind of more of an intro for the next track, but this song cannot be overlooked. Eerie distortion over the voice makes your skin crawl in an uneasy way. This track is what their current tour is named after as a matter of fact. The "Prepare For Hell Tour".
13) The Negative One: This is undoubtedly the first sneak peek that maggots got of this fresh new album, and a mind blowing one at that. This song got the hearts of thousands around the world racing and created massive smiles on thousands of faces. This first unofficial single is one of the more powerful in The Gray Chapter. It's not crazy fast, but it has the strength of a very fast song. This track is loud and proud and holds nothing back. They went all out to make sure we, the maggots, got the preview we so deserved after waiting patiently/impatiently. Now we can't hear this song without remembering where we were when we first heard it and first experienced Slipknot reborn.
14) If Rain Is What You Want: This is one of those tracks that slowly progresses as the song moves forward. It progresses in the sense that it gets louder and heavier more and more. This track reminds me a bit of "Gently" off of their Iowa record. As I stated, this song starts off slow and deep. You're not sure what to expect from this song, but you know Slipknot have always ended their albums with a bang. Instrumentation here and there start to pop up more frequently. The guitars and bass rip up the sound waves with tough cords ringing out and beating at your chest. You gotta love the lyrics that finish off this song that read, "The only thing deeper than my last breath, the only thing darker than my last death is the panic - the static - I've come back from the dead, but my cities will never sleep again." This was the finally that this record needed.
Vol. 5. The Gray Chapter is the deepest, heaviest, and most heavy-hearted album they've ever created, and for obvious reasons. Even though Slipknot went through some of the toughest times over the past few years, they turned the worst of times into the best of records. For what? For themselves, for the maggots, for anyone who would listen to their story, for Paul.
This record is proof that anyone can pull through a hard time, no matter if it takes one day, one year, or one decade; people can pull through.
This record is a must have for all maggot and non-maggots alike. A grand message of hope, strength, and family. This album will give you the hope and strength to press on no matter what you're going through. To show you that you are not alone.