It’s been 23 years since Slipknot broke out of Iowa with their horror masks and aggressive metal machine music.
Having built an enormous audience – never more apparent than at Toronto’s outdoor Budweiser Stage – the band has channelled sentiments of social unease, isolation, and rage into a captivating voice, serving them well across their mammoth 40-date Knotfest Roadshow.
Bleak and nihilistic, the band is also unequivocally theatrical. Decked out in a pattered outfit and skull disguise, frontman Corey Taylor (now nearly 50 years old) was made to look like he had just stepped off the set of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. Same for the remaining idiosyncratic lineup, consisting of three guitarists, a keyboard player, a DJ, and powerhouse drummers. Each comes distinctly committed to their own look, projecting terrifying variations of nightmares brought to life.
Music-wise, the Slipknot nine-piece offered up a career-spanning setlist which left no fan disappointed. Ranging from songs off their debut, their follow-up Iowa, and everything else, tracks like “Wait and Bleed” rocked sinisterly. Elsewhere, the innovative “Vermillion” stewed in its brooding and haunting intensity that never let up.
Underpinning the savagery, skilled musicianship and assured metal tropes were visible on all corners of Budweiser Stage. Unrelenting riffs, piercing solos, and choruses clamoured home with Toronto’s Slipknot “army” – especially on angry, pulverizing anthems such as “Surfacing” and “Duality”.
And yet, behind the fire-shooting guitars, computer graphics, and demonic posturing, there are humans behind those masks and mayhem. That is if you look hard enough.