Arcs and circles and shapes and colors. Madness and adrenaline and intensity and war. Nine men on a stage every night, every day pushing the chaos so far past the limit all the onlookers can do is scream and hold on for dear life. Searing guitars and spit flying, drums that pummel and shrieks of melody, manmade noises that chill the blood and eighteen eyes that glare, daring you to join them, knowing you can't, smiling like a slash of insanity across their faces, reaching for what is only out of arms length: immortality.
The heat is thick, the air heavy and moist, yet the energy keeps flowing like a circuit between the audience and the band, through the band back to the audience, a palpable cycle you can almost touch if you could keep your hands from shaking and your body from losing complete control.
This is Slipknot. This is live in the eye of the storm. This is where the myths are made.
"When we're onstage and the chords are struck and the beats are hit and everybody falls into their place and we all look at each other, it just feels like dying, man," says percussionist Shawn "Clown" Crahan. There hasn't been one show where I've walked onstage and haven't told myself I might just not make it out of here tonight and this could be my last day in this reality."
In a world where the mentality seems to be "work less, yet earn more," Slipknot have done everything they can to work harder and earn what they deserve, much to the chagrin of their so-called peers, yet to the delight of their fans, known affectionately as the Maggots. The latest culmination of their efforts is, Slipknot 9.0: Live, a bludgeoning double-live CD of the past three album's worth of material that captures all of the noise, hatred, intensity, violence, pain, blood and infection that make the maggots swarm.
"Most of the people that are going to buy this record are core fans, and normally when they listen to an album, they say: 'Oh, this part is brutal, oh, this is bad-ass.' And they rewind over parts and sing along," Crahan explains. "But I think with this record, they're going to be very silent because I think they're going to be painting a picture of us live in their head as they hear it. You're used to seeing us live, but now you're hearing it live, so you're forced to paint the movie in your head, which creates a psychosis - that is what we are doing with rock and roll music."
The 24 recordings on 9.0: Live were made directly from the soundboard in countless cities and capture the immediacy and explosiveness of the Slipknot experience, an experience that took on a new life two years ago. In July of 2003, Slipknot convened in a dilapidated mansion in the Hollywood Hills. By January of 2004, they emerged with Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses, an album that would re-establish them as the premiere hard rock band in the world. And in March of 2004, they set out to remind the world of that by doing what they do best: taking it to the people live - a full-contact concert experience.
Around the world they went, from America to Europe, back to America, back to Europe. To Canada, to Asia, to Australia, back to America, back to Europe, then to South America, and finally America once more. Playing places they had never been before, sometimes embraced, other times banned. They toured the farthest reaches of the civilized world, playing for as many people as would have them, delivering show after show after show of complete and utter sonic and visual lunacy. Some of the band members experienced renewed love for their craft. Others went too far and became injured.
"At one show in Europe, my drums went forward and I went headfirst straight down to concrete and my neck bent kind of sideways," recalls Crahan fondly. "I remember laying there on my back for at least two minutes. I was waiting for that sharp pain to crash through me indicating that something was really wrong. Then, I just lay there for another minute just to reflect how totally great my life is and how I woke up that morning in my bunk and never knew I was gonna be ejected off a stage face first and just knock the shit out of myself because of how much we are all giving."
There were shows that unfortunately had to be done a few members short (none of which appear on the album), but Slipknot's mantra has always been, 'It's better to play than to cancel,' so play they did, even if it sometimes felt odd or uncomfortable. The show must go on. It meant too much to the people who were there.
The album contains blips from the nearly two years of brutal touring the band waded through, rejoicing, suffering, destroying, but most importantly reconnecting as a unit, a family, an unstoppable force that will never be reckoned with, never be duplicated, but always envied.
"To me, we are a living, breathing, blood pulsating human machine, and we do what we do better than anybody out there, period," Crahan says. "There's a line in 'Danger Keep Away' that goes 'The pieces are only as good as the whole,' and I've always believed that from the very beginning. A lot of our magic is each one of us is a great musician, and then beyond that a great artist, and beyond that a great performer. And one thing I've always believed in is that although each individual can stand on his own feet and take his art to some really great place, I think that you wouldn't have Slipknot if it wasn't for the nine individuals putting out what we do together as a single nine-headed monster."
Because of their confidence, because of their supremacy, so many people wanted Slipknot to fail. After the band toured for their IOWA album, so many people said it was over. So many people hedged bets and offered no condolences, trying to step over what they thought was a shell of a band. Well, from then to now, those same people have changed their tune, even slapped a few backs in praise, back-pedaling wildly to save face. If they had any sense at all they would have realized long ago what every maggot knew then, knows now and will forever believe: YOU CANNOT KILL WHAT YOU DID NOT CREATE.
Like a deadly biological virus, Slipknot was created and engineered to be uncompromising, unstoppable, irrepressible and without compassion. It all started over a decade ago in a dark basement, a basement in the middle of nowhere that held nine men from nine different lives, nine different tastes but one all-encompassing goal -- to destroy. Ten violent years have passed and after the dust of complete annihilation settles, Slipknot will return for at least another 10 more.
But for now, here is a record of all they have decimated, all they have obliterated. Their enemies call it a document of the ultimate inhumanity their fans consider it a gift. Here is is: 9.0 Live. The very best with love from the Knot to the maggots.