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Disasterpieces: Slipknot’s “Iowa”, 16 years later

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5 full-lengths into their career, Slipknot have long been one of the most important and influential metal bands on the planet. Whether you love them or hate them, you can’t deny that a generation of bands have been influenced by their incendiary blend of nu-metal, industrial, and even death metal. It all started with their debut 1999 self-titled album, and while it’s often cited as a fan favorite (for good reason), it can be argued that it was 2001’s Iowa that’s actually the better album.

With acclaimed producer Ross Robinson back at the helm for album #2, the band’s sophomore album was a huge turning point for Slipknot. Though it has just as much depth and incendiary rage as their debut (“The Heretic Anthem”, “Left Behind”), it’s the strangely melodic portions of the album that are the real standouts. It’s not like Slipknot lacked vitriol or energy here, but even the crushing single “My Plague” showed off one of the catchiest choruses on Iowa. “Left Behind” in particular is one of the early songs that showed major crossover appeal, which was even more adeptly explored on Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. It’s this stunningly effective dichotomy of occasional light in the dark as well as arguably the best Corey Taylor performance on record that makes Iowa so influential – that’s not even mentioning the almost 7 minute long track “Skin Ticket”, which is an experimental track unlike anything Slipknot had ever done to that point.

Even 16 years later, Iowa is still a stunning achievement. Slipknot managed to cut down on some of the filler, explore more melodic influences, and it ultimately culminated in an album that was one step closer to one of the most unlikely crossover bands in metal history. Iowa is certainly worth revisiting – even almost 2 decades after its release, it does not sound a bit dated at all.

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