Before Slipknot signed with Roadrunner and became one of the industry's surprise successes during the late-'90s/early-2000s heavy metal renaissance, they recorded this somewhat forgotten eight-song, 50-minute LP. Originally released on Halloween 1996, the Lincoln, NE-based indie outpost -ismist Recordings picked up the album for distribution in summer 1997, eventually leading to Roadrunner's discovery of the eclectic metal group and their slow rise to infamy. Though not nearly as accomplished or realized as the group's self-titled 1999 album, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat remains an impressive listen, even if the formative group is still struggling to find a patented aesthetic. The eight songs all share some consistent qualities -- most noticeably the heavily detuned, near death metal guitar tone, along with a knack for progressive song structures -- but the group manages to integrate a healthy sense of variety across the album. As they would go on to do more successfully on their self-titled album, Slipknot hosts a myriad of vocal styles here, from sketchy rapping to grindcore-esque growling, and even some labored singing. Even more impressive, though, is the group's emphasis on non-traditional songwriting -- they stray far away from a verse-chorus-verse approach, instead instilling a meandering quality that often makes the songs feel like medleys. This is perhaps best exemplified on the 20-minute "Killers Are Quiet," a song that moves through ambient-industrial segments to lugging, riff-laden instrumental segments to traditional vocal-driven moments. Anyone new to Slipknot should surely look to their Roadrunner debut first, but if you like what you heard there and want some more, or if you're curious about the band's inventive beginnings, search out this early release -- you won't be disappointed.
AllMusic Review by Jason Birchmeier