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Slipknot – (sic)nesses DVD Review

19 March
Author: Sam

I have not seen Slipknot play live in person.

After watching their newest DVD, (sic)nesses, I really really want to.

This DVD is split into two parts.  “Live At Download” is the full 18 song concert the band played at the 2009 edition of the Download Festival in England, while “Audible Visions of (sic)nesses” is a 45-minute film of mostly backstage footage shot by band member Shawn Crahan (aka “Clown”).  There’s also a host of other goodies thrown in, including the music videos from the band’s latest album as well as a making-of featurette for the expanded music video “Snuff” (you know, the one where Corey Taylor dresses up like a chick).

But the concert footage is the meat and potatoes of this package.  And Slipknot delivers on what you’re looking for most of all in a concert DVD, and that’s energy and excitement.  I can’t think of any current band that attacks their stage show with as much ferocious theatricality as these guys.  Then again, would you expect anything else from a squad of guys in uniforms and frightening masks?

Seeing these nine masked monsters roaming and stalking about the stage while frenetic and scathing guitar shreds and percussive stomps blast from the speakers is quite the spectacle to see.  For the live show (and in some senses its recorded version as well), the band can really be broken down into two sections.  On the one hand, you’ve got the core made up of Joey Jordison on drums (there aren’t many better out there), Paul Gray on bass, the twin guitar attack of Jim Root and Mick Thomson, and lead-man extraordinaire Corey Taylor churning out what is the bedrock of most Slipknot songs.  But that still leaves four other guys up there, and the songs don’t always leave them with defined roles.  I mean, Craig Jones’ keyboards and Sid Wilson’s turntables are but a small aspect of the group’s sound.  And while those two guys rarely venture from their equipment rigs, secondary percussionists Chris Fehn and Shawn Crahan are more or less free to wander and create a ruckus wherever they want.  Most of the time they are perched atop their massive tribal drum risers, but they also roam out to the sides of the stage or even into the crowd, really getting the fans riled up.

And the more than 80,000 fans that flocked to Donington Park that day were most definitely riled up.  I imagine it would be hard not to be when you’re watching what amounts to a controlled madhouse unfolding onstage.  Everything is carefully and expertly held in check by Taylor.  This guy is a master performer.  For these songs he has to be able to go from shredding his vocal chords to singing a melodic chorus in the blink of an eye and he never missed a beat.  He never even seemed to tire, constantly demanding more from the audience.

There is a strangeness to the whole affair, however, when you realize that bassist Paul Gray died less than a year after this concert took place due to a drug overdose.  He gets a good amount of camera time, which seems a fitting way to pay tribute to him, but it’s still a bit weird to see.  But I think the band would probably want the viewers to look at this as a celebration of one of the group’s last huge shows together rather than a sad remembrance.

The accompanying film by Crahan is a jumbled mess of backstage footage with no clear intention, but the shots of the nine guys silently pacing amongst each other in the underbellies of the stages they were about to own is to see ferocity at the very moment before it’s released.  Like the imminent concert itself, it’s powerful stuff.

Rating: ★★★★☆

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