Overcoming Depression in Slipknot's New Album

If only a year ago someone asked me what my impression of the band Slipknot was I would have to paint them my mental picture: something along the lines of that weird emo kid from high school that kept his hair in his eyes, wore a lot of facial piercings, would probably rawr XD you if you came too close . . . yeah, he wore Slipknot shirts. It would be easy to assume metal is just aggression music for sweaty teenagers that don’t know what to do with their rage. Recently, I gave Slipknot a chance and not only does their music contain artistic lyrics, but a unique sound with a beautiful theme about fighting against mental illness, and, ultimately, winning.

My first dose of Slipknot came with the release of the single “Unsainted.” It’s a lyrically complex song, which I admire, but what made me come back to the band was the next song I listened to off We Are Not Your Kind called “All Out Life.” I’ll admit my reason for liking this song is very lame. It’s catchy. The chorus got in my head and I’m not about to ignore a band that can be heavy, original, and catchy.

 

 

Corey Taylor, the front-runner of the band, was recently featured in Falling in Reverse’s “Drugs,” in which he says “everybody is dead from the neck up.” This bold statement is about how common feeling “dead-inside” has become. In interviews Taylor has opened up about his struggle with mental illness, saying he has “bouts of severe depression.” He hopes to help with the stigma around mental illness by being open about his struggle with it, and writing about it.

Thus, songs like "Solway Firth" and "Birth of the Cruel" are born. The song "Birth of the Cruel" revealed the deeper theme of the album to me. The line, “death of the fool, birth of the cruel” expresses overcoming depression. Instead of being foolish and letting bad habits get out of hand, Taylor expresses cruelly crushing the demons that stand in your way. To summarize: hearing this song feels like punching your depression in the face. 

Not only is the message of the album powerful, but so is the content of the album. The lyrical power throughout is what makes We Are Not Your Kind so worth listening to. Lyrics are a form of art, and believe it or not, it’s bands like Slipknot that remind us of this. Something many bands have tackled is playing with words and their similar sounds. For example, Nirvana and The Hotelier among many, many others. Remember the switch from hello to how low in Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit?” Or the title of The Hotelier’s “Your Deep Rest” playing on the sound of “you’re depressed?” Slipknot take a stab at this in "Birth of the Cruel" when they flip from “I’m overthrown” to “I’m over your throne.” It’s clever enough to catch anyone’s attention. It’s amazing how a simple change of a few letters can change the meaning of a line so much. The line switches from feeling powerless to powerful in seconds.

One of the things that immediately tells you whether an album is worth listening to is the way it opens. The way We Are Not Your Kind is initiated, with “Insert Coin” is one of the best openings to an album I’ve heard in awhile. Excellent title. Excellent anticipation, which is so important for an opening track. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the transition of Pierce the Veil’s “May These Noises Startle You in Your Sleep Tonight” into “Hell Above.” And like that transition, “Insert Coin” bleeds into “Unsainted” in a way that makes the album cohesive.

 

 

What truly brings this album together is not just the way it flows, but the way it centers around its message. The message of being stronger than your mental illness comes up throughout the album, even in songs like “All Out Life,” which I originally deemed as “just a catchy song.” One thing I adore about this song is the way it ends. The ending is unexpectedly uplifting, finishing with “live, live, live, life.” Metal bands are typically known for being negative, but this song literally tells its listeners to hang in there and keep living. This is reminiscent of other less heavy bands’ attempts at reaching out to fans struggling with depression. In “Truce” by Twenty One Pilots, lead singer Tyler Joseph sings, “Stay alive, stay alive for me.” Singers encouraging fans to keep fighting is a beautiful way they can touch hearts and there’s no reason why more hardcore musicians can’t do it.

The lyrics off of We Are Not Your Kind also remind the listener of their own agency. The song “Unsainted” seems to be just any other antireligious metal anthem, but once you dive into the lyrics, you find them rich with more. “Reaching out for the hand of God // But did you think you’d shake your own?” is a line that reminds people they have a say on how their life ends and when it does. When reaching for a higher power to save us we often find the strength we need within ourselves and realize we had it in us all along to save ourselves. That’s what these lyrics say to its listener. And that is why We Are Not Your Kind is such an important album.

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