Whether you experience them in sight, sound, or both, the modern metal band Slipknot are not for the faint of heart. The band's nine members wear grotesque masks and matching industrial jumpsuits on stage, and their live shows are so intense that the band members have often suffered injuries while performing. Merely listening to Slipknot can make one feel as if they've suffered injuries as well. Slipknot's brand of nu-metal can be a relentlessly brutal assault on the nervous system. The Iowa band seemingly has an endless supply of anger to vent, but it's hard to tell exactly what they are angry about, or whom they are directing their anger toward. Like so many other bands of their generation, Slipknot seem to simply wear misery as a loud fashion statement. For better or for worse, they are able to outscream many of their peers in that department.
Although their self-titled 1999 album is their official debut, Slipknot did record one independent album before it. Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. was originally released on Halloween in 1996 without a distributor, and was later distributed through the -ismist label in 1997. It is now officially regarded as the band's demo instead of as their debut. According to reports, no more than 1,000 legitimate copies were pressed, and the members of Slipknot do not even own copies.
The cover art for the original self-distributed CD.
Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. was recorded by the original six-man lineup of Slipknot, who have mostly maintained a nine-man lineup since 1999. This early lineup featured original lead vocalist Anders Colsefni and original guitarists Donnie Steele and Josh "Gnar" Brainard, all three of whom exited the band before the release of their self-titled 1999 album. Rounding out the sextet were bassist Paul Gray (who remained with the band until his death from a morphine overdose in 2010), drummer Joey Jordison, and percussionist Shawn "Clown" Crahan. By the time the 1999 debut was released, Colsefni was essentially phased out in favor of Corey Taylor, while Steele and Brainard were respectively replaced by Mick Thomson and Jim Root. Three more members were added by that time for additional percussion, sampling, and turntabling.
The slightly more colorful cover art for the 1997 reissue on the -ismist label.
The sound of Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. bears more than passing resemblance to that of Metallica's '80's albums, with a few nu-metal twists. Original singer Anders Colsefni generally alternates between Cookie Monster growling and morose crooning. The album's title and lyrics were inspired by the role-playing game Werewolf: The Apocalypse, although the band's usual angry-at-the-world ranting is also clearly present. Still, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. shows Slipknot exploring some terrain that they have rarely, if ever, visited since. The third track, "Do Nothing/Bitchslap", sprinkles amusing bits of funk and jazz amid its speed-metal pileup. That track also serves as a good showcase for the late bassist Paul Gray. The dentist's-drill guitar effects on “Tattered & Torn” make the song gripping. "Confessions" is a surprisingly melodic rap-funk number. The album contains a hidden track after the lengthy "Killers Are Quiet". That track, "Dogfish Rising", begins with a long prog-metal intro, then slides into indescribable alt-metal experimentalism. Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. is not as relentless or barbaric as Slipknot's proper albums, which will disappoint some listeners and pique the interest of others. It's no buried treasure, but it does show more eclecticism than their later works.
Notes: Some of the songs on Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. were re-recorded or reworked on later Slipknot releases. "Only One" and "Tattered & Torn" were redone on the 1999 debut. The early version of "Tattered & Torn" is preferable to the noisier 1999 version; on the other hand, the 1999 version of "Only One" is an improvement over the original, because Corey Taylor was more effective than Colsefni at rapping and screaming. "Killers Are Quiet" was redone as the title track of the 2001 Iowa album, which also contained another version of "Gently"; the Iowa versions of both songs are more potent than the originals.
3. Do Nothing/Bitchslap
4. Only One
5. Tattered & Torn
7. Some Feel
8. Killers Are Quiet
9. Dogfish Rising (hidden track)
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