Truly brilliant best-of collection from the Des Moines metal misfits.
Greg Moffitt 2012
With its unfortunate associations with petrol station forecourts and supermarket checkouts, the very idea of a greatest hits compilation would seem anathema to US extreme metallers Slipknot.
Since the release of their platinum-selling eponymous debut album back in 1999, they’ve remained at the top of their game. Against a backdrop of rapidly shifting musical fashions, they’re still the soundtrack for the Y2K generation and have clung to the cutting edge with tenacity.
Although perhaps overdue a new studio album, they’re not even on one of their regular hiatuses right now. Antennas to Hell, therefore, serves mainly as a sharp, swift boot to the face of any youthful pretenders eyeing the Iowa outfit’s lofty throne.
Available as a 19-track single CD, double-disc package featuring the band’s 2009 Download festival headline set, and as an elaborate triple-disc affair which adds a DVD of promo videos and specially shot movie vignettes, this is about as good as "best-of" collections get.
Offering five tracks from the aforementioned debut, four (if you include a remix) from 2001’s Iowa, four each from 2004’s Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) and 2008’s All Hope Is Gone, plus a couple of live tracks, it’s an even cross section of Slipknot’s remarkably consistent career.
Played from beginning to end, what’s remarkable is just how little ground Slipknot have given over the years. There’s still more death metal in their sound today than there ever was nu-metal mash-up à la Korn or Limp Bizkit. And against those other veterans of the 90s who bent metal into brave new post-millennial shapes – Machine Head, Marilyn Manson, Fear Factory, Rammstein – Slipknot still stand tall.
Strip away the masks, the samples and the arena-busting stage shows and Slipknot are, at heart, a band every bit as authentic as Slayer or Metallica, and they’ve got the songs to match. If all they had were hype and gimmicks, they’d be nothing and nowhere.
As it is, Antennas to Hell reminds us just how a bunch of misfits from Des Moines blew the metal scene apart and pieced it back together with psychotic brilliance.