The past six years has been a time of turmoil and uncertainty for Slipknot. Following the death of their bassist Paul Gray, and release of their drummer Joey Jordison, the band has taken baby steps toward finally coming together and creating another album. .5 The Gray Years is set to be released on Oct. 21 and so far two tracks —accompanied by videos —have been granted to the public: “The Negative One” and “The Devil In I”.
Directed by bandmate Shawn Crahan, the video for “The Devil In I” is personal and fierce on a level fitting for Slipknot. Beginning with a figure hidden underneath a sheet and Craig Jones ascending an elevator, we symbolically follow the band through periods of grieving, self-reflection and growth. The first aspect that fans will immediately notice are the new masks every member had fashioned for their return. Corey Taylor’s, Crahan’s and Sid Wilson’s masks receive the most updating, but the other masks are just as revealing. Fans will rejoice in seeing the level of detail and emotion that went into them.
Each bandmate—except the new bass player and drummer —display their inner heartache through sequences in which the audience is carried back to a time of despair for Gray’s departure. As the video progresses, the band undergoes a series of deaths and rebirth. Every individual selects an instrument of destruction, and kills each damaged part of themselves and the band, ultimately allowing for it to continue. What’s particularly beautiful about these scenes is the personality every individual brings to the mourning process. They’re a testament to the intimate relationship between Slipknot and their followers.
As massive of a blow Gray’s death and Jordison’s departure from Slipknot was, it would be a mistake to say this video and their next album is solely rooted in this. In what was probably the most difficult step Slipknot had to take, the two new members were officially revealed to the world. Toward the end of the video, the rest of the band stabs said members, resulting in them finally playing with the other musicians. This clearly showed acceptance for the fact that things can’t be the same and that a new chapter awaits. Unlike the others, the new additions wear generic masks as a part of the band’s healing process.
“The Negative One” and especially “The Devil In I” set the tone for what’s to come. Both carry a very exposed edge to them, reinforcing Crahan’s idea of salvation through pain. This is the very thought that made heavy metal so attractive in the first place. With all that a new album entails, Slipknot has reawakened the fire, and it is a most glorious one.