Flaming coffins, gothic mourners, woozy camera angles that make The Blair Witch Project look like a kid’s flick: Slipknot go full-on horror film with their video for “XIX,” the opening track from their fifth LP, 2014’s .5: The Gray Chapter.
Director/Slipknot percussionist Shawn Crahan builds impressive dread in just over three minutes, depicting a nightmarish funeral involving naked women, an empty field and trees that recall the bleak expanses of True Detective Season One.
The band conjures a similar atmosphere with brooding textures and lyrics: “This song is not for the living / This song is for the dead,” Crahan narrates to open the track. “Walk with me / Just like we should have done right from the start,” sings frontman Corey Taylor. “Walk with me / Don’t let this fucking world tear you apart.”
Slipknot wrote “XIX” as a tribute to former bassist Paul Gray, who died in 2010 from an accidental painkiller overdose. “I don’t usually let people see me cry,” Crahan told Rolling Stone. “It’s too hard. But when I heard what Corey Taylor sang on the song ‘XIX,’ I cried and cried and cried. It hurt so bad.”
Slipknot channeled that grief throughout the LP, resulting in their most emotionally heavy work to date. “It was always in my head that this was going to be the story of the last four years,” Taylor told Rolling Stone. “We knew it was going to be heavy. We knew we would be asking ourselves if we were prepared to be that honest. But we allowed ourselves to get to that point.”
“Finally, after four years, we looked at each other and said, ‘Hey, we’re gonna cry. We’re gonna hurt. We’re gonna be angry,'” added Crahan. “We got it out, and it felt good.”