The time elapsed between the recording of Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses and the end of the touring cycle for that album was difficult for Slip knot. The band’s late bassist and songwriter Paul Gray struggled with heroin addiction, vocalist Corey Taylor struggled through a dysfunctional marriage and drank way too much, drummer Joey Jordison partied too much and everyone else in the band was dealing with their own personal demons and dying to get out of the way. But as Slipknot began to put the pieces in place for their fourth studio album All hope is lost, which was published Aug. 26, 2008, they entered a new creative headspace that was both therapeutic and productive.
“I went through a year and a half of hell, and then after leaving my wife and starting a new relationship, I came out the other side and I was fine,” vocalist Corey Taylor told me in 2008. “I was bigger, I was stronger, and that set me on this path. I actually started writing the lyrics to All hope is lost in the middle of Sten angry trip cycle for Come what (ever) May. “I just sat down and started filling up notebooks. I started feeling hungry again and I wanted to do another Slipknot album. I hadn’t felt like that in years.”
Slipknot, “Dead Memories”
Slipknot began to write All hope is lost in October 2007. Jordison and Gray did most of the preliminary song structures, while Taylor came up with ideas for the lyrics and Jim Root and Mick Thomson put together a bunch of riffs for possible inclusion. When they started working on the album, Taylor was happy and Gray was clean, but for a while Jordison was still a mess.
“After I demoed the record with Paul, I found myself in this gaping hole,” Jordison said. “I had ended this horrible relationship with a girl who almost made me want to kill myself; all I could do was f— myself up. I turned off the lights, I didn’t answer the phone, and I just put powder up my nose and got drunk for three weeks straight. I didn’t eat and I was almost dead. I didn’t know if I was going to live or die or ever make another record. Then my dad broke my f—-in -dies down and I’m scared of my dad, period. He’s the toughest mother—-er, ever. I got clean and I was much happier afterwards than when I was on that f—ing bull —. It starts out fun and then it becomes a habit and the next thing you know, it becomes nothing but f—ing misery. And once I got clean, I played better than ever.
Slipknot wrote a lot All hope is lost individually or in small groups. When the band began recoding in February 2008, there was friction and division between the nine members. Due to a distraction from his personal problems, Jordison hammered out the drum parts for the songs with producer Dave Fortman before the other members of Slipknot could motivate themselves to enter Sound Farm Studios in Jamaica, Iowa.
“I wrote the basic skeletons of the songs myself, then we rehearsed for a week and a half and people were still trying to figure out the songs,” the drummer recalled. “The basic guitar parts were done, but the guitarists didn’t necessarily know exactly where they wanted to go. So I said, ‘F— that. I’ll track the drums alone. Now roll tape.’ And it caused a lot of problems. But I just thought, ‘Well, I know the songs, so let me just do it,’ and I tracked all my parts in three days.
When Jordison finished, he left and let his bandmates work with Fortman to cleanly mix their parts with the beats. Root, who disliked playing between Jordison’s beats, says he was the most active participant during the four months Slipknot was in the studio.
“There were times when I’d go a week without seeing anyone from the band. I’d think, ‘Are they ever going to come in and do anything?'” he said. “I ran out of things to add to the record because when nobody else was nearby, Fortman would grab me and I’d add more guitars or more bass or put my effects pedals together and add more weird sounds. I think since we recorded the album in Iowa, some guys in the band got complacent and hung out in their houses and didn’t come in.”
Unlike his fellow guitarist, Mick Thomson invented the recording process All hope is lost far more fun than the grim negativity that permeated the sessions Vol. 3: The subliminal verses. “The study sessions weren’t perfect, but they were leaps and bounds beyond anything we’d ever done before in terms of positivity and just being efficient,” he said. “I loved what we were doing again, and that love had been taken away from me by the end of the first record cycle. And on Iowa it was gone. By The subliminal verses it came back but when we did All hope is lost I had a great time. I f—in’ loved everybody. It wasn’t one of those little ones who walked on thin ice and waited for someone to look up situations. Hopefully we are over the hump and where we need to be as people.”
On the surface, the title of the album seems bleak and pessimistic – in other words, business as usual for Slipknot. However, Taylor said that he did not consider the record to be a letdown and did not intend the name to imply that it was anything less than a creative breakthrough.
“To me, All hope is lost is a very positive thing to say because hope means expectation, and when you give up expectation, you just embrace what’s going to happen,” he explained. “There’s nothing better. You will never be let down. I think hope is the death of dreams, honestly, because what if your dreams come true in a completely different f—in’ way and they don’t live up to your hopes? Then suddenly your heart is broken for no damn reason.”
Besides recording the basic tracks that made up the bulk of All hope is lostincluding blaring title numberthe exciting”Psychosocial“and the plaintiff”Dead memories,” Taylor, Root and percussionist Shawn Crahan worked in another room, Studio B, on a batch of songs that were more experimental and offbeat than the main album. “Until we die” was included in the special edition of the release, but most of the material has not been released. Still, it was refreshing for Root to have a new way to express himself.
“The days Mick and Paul weren’t there, Clown and I would go across the street to this other house and write all this other music,” he said. “It’s kind of like Veil‘s 13. Clown and I did some experiments like recording frogs and writing a song around the way the frogs sounded. And we put Corey down in a well and had him sing in this big, huge cistern that sounded like a cave. I was able to approach the guitar not with straightforward power chords or modal riffs, but as a completely different instrument, and I really liked that. It was some of my favorite music I’ve ever written.”
Fortman was completely willing to work with Slipknot on the Studio B recordings, he said. However, the members who were not involved resisted including the songs on the album, and even some of the musicians who worked on the songs were in possession of the material.
“I was under the impression that they would put down some writing ideas and we would eventually approach these songs in Studio A,” Fortman said. “I came in two hours later and things were mixed very professionally. Right from the start I felt a bit alienated about it. But half way through the process I’d be listening to stuff in Studio B and I’d be like, ‘Yeah, we’ll definitely use some of this stuff.” I thought a lot of it was really good. Then it became a matter of certain band members not wanting to share the creativity, not wanting other people to mess with the art. I get that too, but once it starts, it’s out of the realm of what I really want to be involved in.”
All hope is lost was the band’s first album to debut at number one on the Billboard album charts; as with all things Slipknot, it didn’t happen without a fight. The trade magazine told that first The game‘s LOOSE beat Slipknot with 13 albums sold. In the spirit of democracy, Slipknot’s management and label demanded a recount. When the final units were counted, Knot emerged victorious, taking over The Game with 1,134 records, with total sales of 239,516 copies. It was the closest photo finish since SoundScan began ranking album sales in 1991. All hope is lost was certified platinum on Aug. 12, 2010.
“I think it’s by far our best album,” Taylor said. “It’s really heavy and very dark, but also ultimately uplifting in a way. It’s experimental, it’s brutal, it’s melodic. It’s Slipknot.”
Loudwire contributor Jon Wiederhorn is the author of Raising Hell: Backstage Tales From the Lives of Metal Legendsco-author of Louder Than Hell: Metal’s Definitive Oral Historyas well as the co-author of Scott Ian’s autobiography, I’m the Man: The Story of That Guy From Anthraxand Al Jourgensen’s autobiography, The Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen and the Agnostic Front book My riot! Grit, Guts and Glory.