London Astoria, Monday 24th June

Extreme heavy metal has always been a lucrative business. Slipknot have sold millions of albums around the globe, their brand of pantomime speed-metal striking a nerve with rebelious teens from Chicago to Shanghai. They could fill Wembley Arena several times over, so it's something of a privilege to see them (for the first time) in the intimate confines of the Astoria, for this Download festival warm-up. Tonight definitely has the air of an event about it.

I'm not going to pretend to be an expert when it comes to Slipknot's back catalogue and, truth be told, it does all start to sound a bit samey after 5 or 6 songs but it doesn't really matter. There's so much going on onstage to keep your attention that the music is almost secondary.

The newly updated masks and bolier suit outfits conceal individual human identities, allowing the 'knot's alter-egos free rein. And they make the most of it. Wether it's the gimp with the long nose baiting the audience with the middle-finger or the clown attacking his industrial drum set with a baseball bat, lead singer Corey standing defiantly on his monitor surveying the 'pit or the "dj" with the nine-inch-nail gimpmask scratching furiously, the visual onslaught is almost as intense as the musical one.

All Slipknot's trademarks are here. Tribal drumming, brutal riffing, superfast soloing and gibbering, unintelligible (at least to me) vocals are all in ample supply. The newer songs such as"Duality" and "Pulse Of The Maggots" (a tribute to slipnot fans everywhere - known as "maggots") are apparently something of a departure from earlier works but they certainly don't seem out of place here - equally as hard and nasty as "People = Shit" and "Wait and Bleed".

Perhaps the most suprising thing about tonight's show is the cross-section of people present. Although as expected the crowd is predominantly male and very young, I am far from being the oldest person here, and there are probably more girls/women present than your average thrash gig - a testament to the enduring appeal of extreme music played by outrageous characters.

Richy [ June 27th, 2004 ]

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