While even a cursory listen to Slipknot's back catalog makes it clear the band are no strangers to working out their inner turmoil and pain through their music, never has that idea been so abundantly clear as it is on their fifth outing, .5: The Gray Chapter. Their first studio album since 2008's All Hope Is Gone, the album finds the band still recovering from the loss of founding bassist Paul Gray, whose death in 2010 hit them pretty hard. Rather than allowing their pain and anger destroy them, they were able to harness that energy and focus it, allowing them to create one of their most visceral and dynamic albums to date. Combining the punishing, pummeling metal of the band's early work with the more melodic focus of their later years, The Gray Chapter shows off just how unexpectedly wide the band's range is, going from a plaintive, atmospheric ballad like album-opener "XIX" to a thrash-inspired pummeling like "Sarcastrophe" without missing a beat. Along with being Slipknot's first album without Gray, it's also notable for being their first album not to feature longtime drummer Joey Jordison, who parted ways with the band in 2013. While Jordison will certainly be missed, the band's mysterious new drummer, whose identity the band have done their damndest not to reveal, slots in marvelously, seamlessly acclimating to the band's suddenly shifting tempos and styles. Listening to the album, it's clear that even though Slipknot aren't over the loss of a dear friend and colleague, they're able to channel their grief into a productive album, allowing them to continue moving forward while paying tribute to a fallen comrade with one of the strongest albums of their career.
AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney