Album: Two Of Nine – Slipknot Tribute Album
Release Date: 26 November 2021
Genres: Deathcore/Nu-core/Slam/Post-Hardcore/Metalcore/Djent/Industrial/Nu Metal
Label: Quazar Studios/Independent
Slipknot is a band I am sure most of us loved or still love to this day even if we have moved on from our nu metal phase during our angsty teenage years. They have one of the most dedicated fanbases in the scene, whose loyalty can only be rivaled by other popular bands like Nighwish, Sabaton, Metallica, or Bring Me The Horizon who sell out major venues or pull in the largest crowds at metal and rock festivals. Not only that, but, their music has been influential to many of this generation’s hot and upcoming talents both inside the metal scene and even extending out of it into genres like alternative rap.
While today it might seem as if there is a divide between longtime Slipknot fans and the new generation of fans who discovered them through 5: The Gray Chapter and beyond, both sides of the aisle can at least agree that the legacy and impact of both the late Paul Gray and Joey Jordison cannot be denied. Whether it was Paul’s ability to write and compose catchy, yet, furious and aggression fueled riffs or Joey’s speedy, pounding, and energetic drumming, both of these titans contributed something unique to Slipknot’s identity as a band during their lifetime and these elements can be found in most of the music that the bands of today are putting out.
So, when the news broke that Joey Jordison, the original drummer for Slipknot, had passed away during August of 2021 after a long battle with a rare neurological disease known as Transverse Myelitis, it was only natural that the metal scene produce their own tributes paying homage to their idols who kick started their own careers as musicians.
The idea for this album came about when the founders of the South African/Zambian based production studio, Quazar Studios, and members of the US based deathcore outfit, Under Red Skies, started putting out invitations on their social media pages inviting bands to take part in the project with the aim of raising funds for charity to help those who suffer from the same disease Joey did. At first, neither party expected as much positive reception as they got, but, the fact that you are even reading this review just shows just how great the scene is when it comes to respecting those who came before and uniting behind causes that help others in their time of need.
Thus the Quazar Studios team have worked tirelessly over the course of four months with bands from across the globe to bring about this album, in which bands all inspired by Joey and Paul in some way, shape, or form to fruition.
Now, the entire album is well over two hours in length and of course there is no way for me to review and dissect every last cover on this album without boring everyone to tears. The best I can do is to encourage all of you reading this to check out the full album and support the bands who took part in this project if you enjoyed any of their covers of these Slipknot classics. So, for the remainder of this review, I shall only be focusing on my personal favourite covers on the album.
Now the album contains covers from bands ranging anywhere from deathcore to djent and even to post-hardcore. Needless to say there is definitely something for every alternative music lover to enjoy on this tribute album, even if you aren’t big into Slipknot yourself.
The first cover that really grabbed my attention on this record was blackened deathcore juggernauts Worm Shepherd’s brilliant cover of Eyeless. Worm Shepherd are more known for their eerie, haunting, black metal influenced brand of deathcore along with vocalist Devin Duarte’s distinct vocal style that manages to appeal to both the core fans and fans of old school black metal. However, with this cover, there is absolutely none of that here. Instead, Worm Shepherd opt to go full on nu-core with this cover, even keeping more or less with the same song structure and melody as the original version of the song. But, what really made this cover stand out was the way in which Devin took his signature vocal style and made it flow perfectly with the more bouncy hip-hop inspired riffs from the original while making the song sound more ghoulishly sinister than Corey’s style. The production also feels a lot more polished and clean in comparison to their more atmospheric and experimental sound on their usual material which made it give off a similar vibe to what Slaughter To Prevail did with their last album Kostolom which dropped a few months back.
In all honesty I wouldn’t be surprised if this cover alone started some kind of weird sub-genre like blackened nu-core or something as mind boggling as that but regardless, I really found this one to be a great way to kick off the album only two tracks in.
Following almost immediately that was a hauntingly beautiful take on Snuff by none other than deathcore legends, Azazel. Unlike a lot of their usual material, the band opts for a more sad, somber, acoustic performance of the song along with a beautifully melancholic piano melody backing the main chord progression. But, as the song gradually builds up towards its climax, growls are slowly incorporated in the background of the clean vocals giving them a wonderful contrast of intense anger and intense sadness at the same time. Not only that but the build up of down tuned guitars just makes the track gain momentum with its heaviness before ending just as suddenly as it began. Azazel truly threw us all for a curveball in staying true to the emotional core of the original song without downtuning it into oblivion the whole way through. All I can say is that if Corey Taylor ever hears this cover, I am sure he would be proud of it.
My favourite cover on the entire album though is none other than Quazar’s cover of Left Behind. While those familiar with the original song can definitely pick up on the melody and structure, Quazar like to throw in some more experimental elements and add subtle changes to it that make it feel more like a song from a movie, anime, or video game score than just a simple hit single that everyone knows and loves. Not only that but the production on this one is simply next level, especially considering that Quazar is a band consisting of only a mere two members. As mentioned before, this cover stays true to the original for the most part, but, then it gives it a more cinematic edge by taking heavy inspiration from artists like Humanity’s Last Breath, vildhjarta, Cabal, Celldweller, and Code Pandorum to create this oppressively heavy atmosphere with many genre layers ranging from deathcore to black metal to industrial.
Quazar’s sound and style is definitely unique and they have a very promising future ahead of them despite only having one single and this cover to their name. I personally cannot wait to hear more from them and if you are into any of the artists I mentioned before, then you will love their stuff.
Now we get on to the track that introduced me personally to Slipknot during my teens. That track is none other than Liberate and it was covered by deathcore outfit, Osiah, for this release. Admittedly, I am not too familiar with Osiah or their discography. But what I can say is this. They totally nailed this cover out of the park. As a huge fan of the original song accompanied with a strong sense of nostalgia for it, I was kind of worried as to how a more traditional approach to deathcore would make this cover sound. Thankfully, as the first couple of notes started to kick in, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only did Osiah stick to the essence of the original song, but, they even kept a lot of Sid Wilson’s original synth samples which complimented their sound rather well and actually made their ‘nu-core’ version stand out in comparison to a lot of the others on the album and in the current deathcore scene in general.
Plus the more brutal deathcore vocals only enhanced the core aggression of the original version a lot more and that was something I definitely appreciated and can respect.
Sunfall’s cover of No Life, another personal favourite of mine from Slipknot, was easily the most Slipknot sounding track but with heavier guitar tones and more filthy sounding vocals. Sunfall already have a lot of nu metal sounding grooves in their usual catalogue, but, this cover actually highlights just how much of an influence Slipknot have had on their own music. Not only that, but, the more rap and hardcore influenced cleans give the song more of that underground garage sounding feel to it which, considering the creepy basement looking visuals for the music video, actually is a pretty cool touch. Plus the drum tone used in the mix really add an extra kick to the song that the original never had at the time of it’s release.
Finally we have blackened deathcore outfit Bog Wraith’s cover of Surfacing. This particular take on the song is very different not only in comparison to the original, but, in comparison to their own work. While their brand of blackened deathcore isn’t quite as distinct compared to bands like Lorna Shore, Worm Shepherd, Mental Cruelty, Cabal, or The Breathing Process, their Carnifex inspired take on the sub-genre actually helped make this a successful cover considering Carnifex have covered The Heretic Album and proved they could pull it off.
This cover is mixed in very distorted, muddy, and murky manner. While it allows for the more catchy and bouncy hip-hop inspired riffs of the original to carry a very distinct and face pounding brand of heaviness that will get your head bopping, the real highlight of this cover is the fact that when it comes to the chorus or any of the more melodic parts of the song, Bog Wraith instead choose to fill it in with a lot of static and chaotic sounds along with high pitched wailing vocals that serve a more evil, eerie, and sinister flavour compared to the original. If this cover were performed live at a concert, it would definitely throw the crowd into a totally chaotic hysteria and make for a more insane mosh pit.
There are plenty of other great covers from bands like Null Existence, Shiva, Bleeding Spawn, Raze The Altar, and VCTMS, but, if I were to cover every track, I might as well write a book as long as The Lord Of The Rings. Though, all jokes aside, every cover is definitely worth checking out as there is something for everyone to enjoy and also well done to every band that participated.
As mentioned earlier in the review, the point of this project was not only for bands to showcase and pay homage to Paul and Joey, but, to raise funds for those suffering from the same disease that Joey did.
In a brief interview regarding the album, Anthony Hawkins, former vocalist of Under Red Skies and co-founder of Quazar Studios, stated “The whole point of this album was not only to pay tribute to a man and to a band who influenced so many of us in our youth to become musicians and kickstart our own musical careers, but, to spread and raise awareness about this very rare disease. Hopefully, at the same time, we can provide some financial help to those who are either suffering from the disease themselves or their loved ones who are affected by the circumstances and consequences of such a predicament.”
“We wanted this album to showcase just how much of an impact Slipknot has had on many of us young bands across a variety of different styles and genres,” Hawkins continues. “It would have been too easy to put together an album made up of only artists from the particular scene us young bands find ourselves in. So when submissions came in, we were happy to include any band that had been influenced or inspired by Joey’s work, whether it was with Slipknot or with his non-metal projects like Murderdolls. Although the album is Slipknot focused, the main goal of this album is more about remembering Joey and keeping his legacy alive and I can firmly say that my business partner, PJ Silavwe, and all the bands involved in this project managed to pull that off with this project.”
Upon further commentary, Hawkins also had this to say, “We also wanted to do this project in memory of the late Paul Grey, who also tragically passed away many years before. Hence why we titled the album Two Of Nine. Even though many in the metal scene will often talk about Corey or Joey as their biggest inspirations, we also cannot forget the contributions of Paul who wrote many of their biggest hits and some of our personal favourite tracks that helped us through our darkest days during our teenage years and shaped us into the people we are today.”
The album can be purchased at your own price via the Quazar Studios Bandcamp page and streamed on both Spotify and YouTube. All proceeds will go to National Voices UK.
Written By: Russell Gainsford