Slipknot's mix of grinding, post-Korn alternative metal, Marilyn Manson-esque neo-shock rock, and rap-metal helped make them one of the most popular bands in the so-called nu-metal explosion of the late '90s. But even more helpful was their theatrical, attention-grabbing image: the band always performed in identical industrial jump suits and homemade Halloween masks, and added to its mysterious anonymity by adopting the numbers zero through eight as stage aliases. Add to that a lyrical preoccupation with darkness and nihilism, and an affectionately insulting name for their fans ("Maggots"), and Slipknot's blueprint for nu-metal success was set.
Slipknot's follow-up was intense, and many industry observers predicted that it would debut at number one; however, faced with some stiff competition that week, the band's sophomore effort, Iowa, bowed at number three upon its release in 2001. More heavy touring followed, including another, more prominent slot on that summer's Ozzfest. After a long spell on the road, Slipknot took a break while the members worked on side projects. The band set up its own label, Maggot Recordings, and signed a band called Downthesun, whose lead singer had served as Crahan's drum technician. Wilson, meanwhile, began DJing solo under the name DJ Starscream, and Root and Thompson both worked on solo material. Drummer Jordison worked with a side group called the Rejects, where he'd actually served for quite some time as guitarist. Taylor, meanwhile, started a side band called Superego, and also contributed a solo song, "Bother," to the soundtrack of the 2002 blockbuster Spider-Man. That May, the band got some amusing press when some of its fans discovered the website of a British crocheting group also called "Slipknot," and flooded the members' in-boxes with excessively rude e-mails.
Joey Jordison and Static-X guitarist Tripp Eisen teamed that summer for the Murderdolls project, while Taylor re-formed his old band Stone Sour and released an album. By the winter, Slipknot had still not reunited and Taylor wrote a commentary on the band's website stating that they had not spoken in months, and that they'd rather break up than become "the next Gwar." The statement sparked a quickly resolved mini-feud between Taylor and Gwar frontman Oderus Urungus. but it also sent many of the Maggots into a tailspin. By early 2003, Taylor had retracted his comments, and announced plans for a new Slipknot album. That August the entire squad decamped Iowa for L.A., where they began work on the new record with producer Rick Rubin. "Pulse of the Maggots" appeared in early 2004 as an exclusive download; it was followed by a full track listing for Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. Slipknot then embarked on a brief tour as a warm-up for their dates headlining Ozzfest that summer. (The group also debuted a fully redesigned third generation of their famous masks.) Subliminal Verses was released in May 2004. It peaked at number two on the Billboard 200, and the band toured steadily for the next year and a half in support. They released a two-disc live album in November 2005, followed by a slew of side projects (Taylor and Root formed Stone Sour, while Jordison sat in with Ministry and Korn) before releasing their fourth full-length album, All Hope Is Gone, in 2008. Slipknot made a number of festival appearances during summer of the following year, and also embarked on their All Hope Is Gone world tour. On May 24, 2010, the body of bassist Paul Gray was discovered by a maintenance worker in an Urbandale, IA, hotel room; he was 38 years old at the time of his death, which was later revealed to have been the result of an accidental drug overdose. The band decided to carry on without him, saying it was what he would have wanted.
Gray, the band released their first compilation. Spanning thirteen years of output, Antennas to Hell: The Best of Slipknot brought together the best studio cuts from Corey Taylor and co., along with a selection of bonus material, including their full performance at 2009's Download Festival. In 2013 Slipknot started work on what was to become their fifth studio album. During the recording process, it was revealed that drummer Joey Jordison had left the band, in murky circumstances which were widely held to be acrimonious, and that the band had recruited a new rhythm section. Both drummer and bassist were still anonymous at the time of the album's release, but were rumored to be, respectively, Jay Weinberg, formerly of Against Me, and Alessandro Venturella, formerly of Cry for Silence. Titled .5: The Gray Chapter in honor of their fallen bandmate, the album was slated for release in October 2014. Marking a return to a more raw, brutal, dissonant sound reminiscent of their earlier work, it was promoted with the singles "The Negative One" and "The Devil in I," which featured music videos directed by Shawn Crahan.