Slipknot, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Sat 18 Jan (4 stars)

Slipknot, SSE Hydro, Glasgow, Sat 18 Jan

credit: Alexandria Crahan-Conway

Masked metal group expertly blend apocalyptic anthems with theatrical stage effects

When nine-man masked horror show Slipknot burst onto the scene in 1999, who would have thought they'd be packing out arenas of this size 20 years later? We Are Not Your Kind has been one of their most successful albums (both critically and commercially), and they even have their own global touring festival (Knotfest, making its UK debut in August).

Tonight it's the infernal majesty of Poland's Behemoth that ushers us into Dante's inferno. Daubed in black paint and sacrilegious robes, it's a powerful and operatic take on extreme metal, fronted by the enigmatic Nergal. There's a ritualistic, arcane element to their show, with decent production for a support act (in particular a fire spewing drum kit). This is blasphemy with a message: challenge organised religion and the pressures of societal conformity. After the blistering blast beats of 'Chant for Eschaton 2000', all four members end their set clad in black executioners masks at the front of the stage as they pound drums to 'Coagvla'.

Then the curtain drops to reveal Slipknot. Their mask and boiler suit combo makes an instant impact as the choral intro of 'Unsainted' clashes with churning, chugging guitars. A perfect example of Slipknot's trademark mix of brutality and melody. And while Slipknot thrash, and thrash hard, there's harmony amongst the savagery. Corey Taylor's vocals are such an integral part of their sound, not only guttural and abrasive but also when they carry out soaring choruses of loneliness, alienation, pain and suffering.

The industrial stage set wouldn't look out of place in a Saw movie. Boasting travelators that DJ Sid Wilson, Taylor and mysterious new percussionist Tortilla Man use to great effect as they dance, scuttle and clamber across the multiple levels.

Taylor's translucent new mask (designed by horror special effects legend Tom Savini) is truly grotesque and effective on stage. Like loose, shedding skin or pus-infected flesh, it shifts and bubbles under the lights.

The nine-piece set up (vocalist, two guitarists, bass, keyboards, DJ, drummer and two percussionists) results in an uncompromising wall of dense malignant sound. A big, chunky 'Psychosocial' grabs the crowd by the throat and drags them into the pits of hell. 'Birth of the Cruel' with its jittery beats and gigantic chorus is augmented by bursts of fire from Alessandro Venturella's flamethrower bass. Predictably, the death metal-meets-grunge angst of early single 'Wait and Bleed' is apocalyptic, sending the mosh-pit thermonuclear.

The night ends with misanthropic anthems 'People = Shit' and 'Surfacing' (with its screamed chorus of 'Fuck it all! Fuck this world! Fuck everything that you stand for!'). A Slipknot show feels like a mass purging of aggression and despair. The maggots, now satiated, emerge gasping into the night air, ears ringing, steam rising from the sweaty masses.

'Unsainted'
'Disasterpiece'
'Eeyore'
'Nero Forte'
'Before I Forget'
'New Abortion'
'Psychosocial'
'Solway Firth'
'Vermilion'
'Birth of the Cruel'
'Wait and Bleed'
'Eyeless'
'All Out Life'
'Duality'

'(sic)'
'People = Shit'
'Surfacing'

Slipknot

The controversial masked American heavy metal shock-rockers with a typically uncompromising live set of blood, snot and tears.

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