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MUSIC REVIEW

Slipknot brings attitude and gratitude to fans

By Sarah Rodman
Globe Staff / February 9, 2009
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LOWELL - In concert, there is a satisfying brutality to the sound of Slipknot's bottom end that matches the metal band's predilection for grotesque horror masks and shredded howls of nihilistic hopelessness.

At a steamy, packed Tsongas Arena Friday night, that rumble - provided by the furious double bass drum work of Joey Jordison and the beefy auxiliary clanging of Shawn Crahan and Chris Fehn - kept a restless young crowd in constant motion.

From the first guitar squeal of "(Sic)" to the encore of "Spit It Out," the general admission floor was a roiling mass of circle pits. Crowd surfers were steadily hauled over the barricades as the red-and-black-jumpsuit-clad nine-man band tore through a 100-minute set of angry songs about war, political duplicity, and a general disappointment with humanity.

While the vocal mix left much to be desired, frontman Corey Taylor's energy was evident even if his voice was sometimes hard to hear as he snarled through songs like the clenched "Psychosocial" and the more tuneful "Before I Forget."

But between songs a curious thing happened that undercut the presumed aesthetic goal of angst and menace. Taylor would shed his vitriolic pose and stop to genially thank the crowd for its support over the last decade, selling out the show, and pushing Slipknot's most recent, and strongest, album "All Hope Is Gone" to number one.

It was the sort of standard-issue banter that wouldn't be out of place at say, a pop or country concert, albeit with a few dozen more F-bombs and nods to insanity. While sincere and admirable, a sense of creeping dread and anarchic disregard is hard to maintain when you're exulting in chart position, no matter how twisted the visage is that you might be sporting. (And with its back-of-the-head straps, Taylor's mask looked like a particularly painful, and hot, face straitjacket. Ditto for programmer/keyboardist Craig Jones's rubber and spiky porcupine quills number).

Any questions about the disconnect between the Iowa band's striking visual image and the actual advancement of any meaning behind that image, however, were subsumed by the grind of the guitars and the crowd's willingness to simply take the ride and tap into the fury. Acidic rockers like "Dead Memories" and "Duality" found the percussionists hauling off on their keg-encased drums with baseball bats for muscular punctuation.

Although there were occasional chants for the headliners during the breaks between songs, conceptual rockers Coheed and Cambria had its fans in the crowd for its elaborate blend of prog-rock changeups and headbanging metal riffs.

SLIPKNOT With Coheed and Cambria

At: Tsongas Arena, Friday night

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