It's been over four years since the release of Slipknot's Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), the record that found the band splitting its sound wide open, adding acoustic guitars and a new range of attitudes while keeping its overall heaviness and claustrophobic sound intact. The Des Moines, Iowa, nine-piece's fourth album, All Hope Is Gone, is set for a late August release, and as the six unmastered songs played for Rock Daily suggest, the band has again expanded its approach.
The album — the first Slipknot record to be recorded in the band's home state — kicks off with a spoken word intro, as frontman Corey Taylor gradually grows more and more agitated, snarling, "Where are your gods and politicians?" and "You rage for no reason because to have no reason." The first full song, "Gematria," features twin guitar solos from Mick Thompson and Jim Root as Taylor repeatedly asks, "What if God doesn't care?" while the band's multiple percussionists generate a din that's more suffocating than ever. Taylor repeatedly invokes America on the lengthy track, and his thoughts aren't especially ambiguous.
"Sulfur," featuring the album's first dose of clean singing, is in the vein of Taylor and Root's other band, Stone Sour. "Psychosocial" (yes, they do find a way to include the song title in the lyrics) slows down the tempo to bludgeon with a steady, pounding groove instead of all-out thrash in a manner reminiscent of the band's more slow-burning but still malicious second album, Iowa. That track is capped off with a time-signature shattering guitar/drum breakdown that will leave the best air-instrumentalists stumped. "Dead Memories" contains a gentle piano bridge that lasts just long enough to be torn apart by Joey Jordison's thundering drums; Jordison is the early frontrunner for the album's MVP, especially with his black metal-inspired, blastbeat-heavy performance on the title track.
"Snuff," the most melodic of the six songs previewed, could be the missing second half of "Circle" from Vol. 3, the band's first full-on acoustic number. Taylor has said he turned to the outside world for lyrical inspiration this time, but "Snuff" finds him looking decidedly inward, singing, "My heart is just too dark to care" and "My smile was taken long ago" over strummed chords.
Slipknot will headline the Rockstar Mayhem Fest, which kicks off July 9th. All Hope Is Gone is scheduled for an August 26th release. A full version of the title track — which will only be online for 24 hours — can be heard here.