The past couple of years have been tough on legendary extreme-metal outfit Slipknot and their legions of fans: the untimely loss of bassist & songwriter Paul Gray in May of 2010 shook the band to the core... and for a while there, it seemed they would disband in the wake of that tragedy. Fortunately, they pulled together and soldiered on, continuing to uphold the legacy that Paul had worked so hard to build since their inception in the late '90s. That legacy has now been chronicled in the band's first greatest-hits compilation Antennas to Hell. It's a massive and comprehensive package, containing all of the band's blockbuster singles (the lone exception being 2005's “The Nameless”), along with two companion DVDs containing their complete live set at the 2009 Download Festival and all of the band's music videos to date – including the complete short film Snuff, featuring guest performances from two icons of genre cinema. Check out our overview of the total package, along with a load of sick clips...
For those one or two of you out there still unfamiliar with the output of these masked metal maniacs, Antennas is the ideal jumping-off point, as it details the band's evolution from their self-titled 1999 debut – which also marked the beginning of their controversial reputation and the first real surge of a cult following – and continues through their 2008 chart-topping release All Hope is Gone (check out our full review of that record here). Along the way, flamboyant percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan, also the band's official chronicler and visual artist, has racked up countless hours of documentary footage of the band's outrageous live shows, studio sessions, on-the-road shenanigans and other candid craziness – much of which has been compiled on DVD projects like the feature-length Voliminal. Many of Crahan's inventive visions appear on Antennas' video supplements, and some are like mini-horror films in themselves.
As for the audio content the standard one-CD edition of Antennas features tracks from the band's debut album including "(sic),” "Eyeless,” “Wait and Bleed,” "Spit it Out" and "Surfacing." The chartbusting 2001 release Iowa yielded the hits "People = Shit," "Disasterpiece,” "Left Behind” and "My Plague,” all of which are compiled here, though “My Plague” appears in the “New Abuse Mix,” as heard on the first Resident Evil soundtrack:
From the 2002 live album Disasterpieces, we get "The Heretic Anthem" and "Purity,” and from 2004's Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses comes “Pulse of the Maggots," "Duality," "Before I Forget" and “Vermilion.” The band's latest studio album (and their biggest seller to date) is 2008's All Hope is Gone, the last Slipknot release to feature the late Paul Gray as songwriter and bassist. Tracks included from this monster include "Sulfur,” "Psychosocial,” "Dead Memories” and “Snuff."
The Special Edition of Antennas to Hell contains two bonus DVDs, beginning with (sic)nesses: Live At The Download Festival 2009. The band's entire set is included, covering all of the songs mentioned above as well as "Get This,” "The Blister Exists" (my personal fave) and "Everything Ends." Check out this quick preview:
The second bonus DVD contains the band's entire video library, beginning with their first music video “Spit it Out” and featuring three versions of “Wait and Bleed,” the most interesting of which being a creepy animated film depicting the band members as macabre puppets:
The majority of the band's video output focuses on their live performances (and rightly so), but their experimental film work, much of which is handled by Crahan, is creepy and nightmarish, particularly the accompanying clips for “Vermilion,” a two-part mood piece depicting a waifish ghost woman – first in stop-motion animation, then in a dreamlike floating sequence. Other high points include “Sulfur,” depicting the band members floating in a water tank (which resembles a drowning device concocted for the SAW franchise), and “The Blister Exists,” which is a mostly sped-up performance piece, but perfectly captures the band's maniacal energy, as you can see here:
Dedicated maggots and curious (and brave) newcomers alike will find everything they need in Antennas to Hell. If you've never been down with the band's bizarre carnival of madness and thunderous melodic metal, as well as some seriously dark and doomy mood pieces, you may not change your mind about them just yet, but for the rest of us it's a worthy addition to the collection... hell, if just for the comprehensive video collection alone.
To wrap up, here's the short film Snuff, directed by Crahan and P.R. Brown, and featuring none other than the legendary Malcolm McDowell (A Clockwork Orange) and Ashley Laurence (Hellraiser) along with Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor – who is seen here unmasked, but in a decidedly strange performance.