Slipknot

9.0: Live

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In ten years Slipknot have never compromised. They've never written a power ballad; they've rarely even removed their masks. Slipknot have become alt metal stars the real way, through relentless touring, embracing fan support, and penning some truly brutal songs. They're not in it for the money, even if they're making the money. So is the message in 9.0: Live's liner notes arrogance or searing, unblinking confidence? "Nine men on stage...pushing chaos so far past the limit all the onlookers can do is scream and hold on for dear fucking life." It's almost certainly confidence -- Slipknot have lived it. But let the Maggots decide, because that's who 9.0 is for. Their faithful roar -- and in particular their relationship with Slipknot vocalist Corey Taylor -- is what unifies the performances on 9.0, recorded in 2004 and 2005 during the group's touring for Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. The crowd's collective yell is another instrument in the gristly, swirling mix of "Pulse of the Maggots," a disc one highlight along with "The Blister Exists," "Before I Forget," and the churning "(Sic)." Disc two begins with "Three Nil," a layered and lurching thrill that's as chaotically groovy as classic Mr. Bungle. Taylor demands to see the outstretched devil horns for "Heretic Anthem," and that leads into a coldly creeping version of Iowa's title track. With its whining guitars and faraway screams, the song's like the horrible radio transmission of a shortwave numbers station perched on a precipice in hell. "Spit it Out" is one of the only enduring classics of rap and metal's fusion, and its seamless transition into "People = S#!t" is one of the set's most engulfing moments. If there was even a question after a decade of destruction, 9.0 proves the rewarding brutality of Slipknot live. So when they're beating on the back of your skull with an aluminum bat, looking for a mind to change, are you going to call them arrogant, or believe in the confidence?

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