- 15 Jan 20
Ingrid Angulo was on-hand as the cult metal crew produced a devastating show in Dublin.
Slipknot have spent the last two decades cementing their status as heavy metal icons. Virtually unrecognisable behind grotesque custom masks, the nine-piece band have crafted a powerful and mystical image that seems almost inhuman. Their show is like a dark carnival, complete with over-the-top special effects that hypnotise the audience. Slipknot’s cult following stretches across the globe, and for good reason – the opening date of their European tour is one of the most theatrical performances I’ve ever seen.
Of course, the big metal stereotype is that everyone’s a Satanist. While that’s definitely an overgeneralisation, Polish death metal outfit Behemoth proves it true tenfold with a chaotic support set. Frontman Nergal has been in hot water with the Polish government since 2010, when he was he was threatened with two years in prison on blasphemy charges for tearing up a Bible on stage.
There isn’t a Bible or angry Polish officer to be seen in 3Arena, though the cloaked figures onstage are surrounded by images of fire and upside-down crosses. The chugging guitars are powerful and the chilling, guttural screams are bone-shaking. Naturally, the set ends with a chant of “Hail Satan!” I’ve attended a Black Mass myself at the Satanic Temple in Salem, but this set was even more intense.
As the clock nears 9pm, the anticipation is at fever pitch as the jammed venue awaits Slipknot’s arrival. The moment is finally upon us – the lights shut off and AC/DC’s ‘For Those About to Rock (We Salute You)’ blares through the speakers. The massive curtain falls and the venue erupts into cheers, as the ‘Knot walk out to ‘Insert Coin’, the opening track from 2019’s release We Are Not Your Kind.
Notably, the band’s trademark masks are truly chilling and ingenius. There’s a new design with every album cycle; each variation portraying some new kind of horror, whether it be massive spikes, gimp masks or bloody clowns. The band gets to update and strengthen their image whilst retaining a timeless quality – it’s impossible to tell someone’s aged 20 years when you have no clue what they look like. This time around, there’s also a new band member, known only as Tortilla Man.
There’s a striking contrast, though, between Slipknot’s image and behaviour . Frontman Corey Taylor looks like a serial killer in his new mask – which evokes Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween – but when he speaks, he’s the opposite of intimidating. He keeps pausing to tell the sea of fans that they’re his family and they need to stick together.
“I’ve got you motherfuckers in my blood,” he screams. “We would fight for you, like you would fight for us.” As Taylor pumps a defiant fist in the air, the band then launch into ‘New Abortion’.
With this being the the first date of Slipknot’s European tour, the set includes live debuts of several songs, including ‘Nero Forte’ and ‘Birth Of The Cruel.’ The latter is accompanied by a new short film, Pollution, and a literally explosive production flourish, with Alessandro Venturella attaching a flamethrower to his bass. Indeed, the show is something of a pyrotechnic extravaganza, with fireworks and fireballs also accompanying the powerful likes of ‘Solway Firth.’
Slipknot seem almost possessed as they plow through an unrelenting 90-minute set. The two percussionists constantly look at risk of falling offstage, with one even pounding a barrel with a flaming torch during ‘Wait And Bleed’. As you might expect, there’s a nuclear response to older tracks like ‘People = Shit’ and ‘Duality’. Eventually, moshpits consume the floor and the crowd divide in two to create a wall of death during the final song, ‘Surfacing.’
Though Slipknot’s theatrical and chaotic live performances border on gimmicky at times, they ultimately prove a memorable and entrancing experience for even casual metal fans.