Released at the arguable peak of nu-metal in 2001, Slipknot’s sophomore album Iowa is simply ridiculous. It’s a record so over the top and chaotic, its volatile concoction of industrial noise, metallic fury, and *gasp* melody stands as a big reason why the band is so huge today. Fraught with recording issues and internal strife, Iowa is about as close to extreme metal as nu-metal ever got. It’s probably easier to just label it Slipknot, though.
Unsurprisingly, this is a record that still sounds menacing, influencing a legion of newer bands like Gojira and Vein with intense, groove metal precision and chaos. A more developed product than their 1999 self titled debut was, Iowa also benefited from a full album of contributions from guitarist Jim Root, along with Ross Robinson at the production helm.
Vocalist Corey Taylor is truly unhinged on Iowa, with a commanding presence all over the record. Proving his versatility, there’s an increasing focus on melody that the band would later fully realize on Vol 3 on “My Plague” and “Left Behind”. Make no mistake, however – this isn’t a sellout record. Tracks like “Skin Ticket” and “The Heretic Anthem” are incendiary in their execution, pushing the envelope musically, even for Slipknot. Industrial and extreme metal elements are all over Iowa, embodied by Joey Jordison’s frantic drumwork.
Managing to pump out some of the heaviest metal of the last 20 years, Iowa is Slipknot’s crowning achievement. Truly embodying the adjective “heavy”, it’s a record that could have gone awry, as many sophomore albums do. Tension in the band and the pressure to succeed could have made the band a turnstile, a flash in the pan of sorts, but that didn’t happen. Refusing to collapse under the weight of label and fans’ pressure, Iowa is one of the most important metal albums of the 2000’s. “Skin Ticket” still makes our skin crawl.