There's plenty of people — many of them on the message boards of this site — who loathe SLIPKNOT, some for reasons that are legitimate (at least in their eyes), others simply because they're haters. Like every band that does something out of the ordinary, the nine-piece group from Iowa is an acquired taste. Despite some flaws, however, SLIPKNOT is one of the more creative, intense and powerful metal bands to break into the mainstream over the last few years, a fact made even more surprising by the extremity of its sound. The band is also comprised of a number of solid musicians and performers, and the new live opus, "9.0 Live", gives ample proof of that.
Live albums are always difficult to review because they too are an acquired taste, usually meant for diehard fans. Not everyone who listens to SLIPKNOT's music needs a double-CD of a SLIPKNOT concert, and it's always tricky for bands to capture what makes them great on tape (or on a hard drive, for that matter). In this case, however, "9.0 Live" does a fine job of summing up the band's recorded high points over the course of six years and three albums, and also comes very close to presenting a definitive audio record of what the group sounds like live.
In some ways, I enjoy this record more than the band's 2004 studio effort, "Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses)" only because sonically SLIPKNOT sounds heavier and darker here than on that disc. And with a nonstop barrage of favorites like "Pulse of the Maggots", "Purity", "Everything Ends" and an especially vicious "Heretic Anthem", "9.0 Live" also emphasizes that underneath the band's sonic and sometimes chaotic assault, there is a core of solid metal songwriting that shines through.
"9.0. Live" also showcases the individual and collective talents of the group live, proving them to be a formidable concert unit. Despite having nine people onstage at all times (except for Joey Jordison's drum solo, which drives home what an excellent drummer and indispensable component he is), the band stays tight throughout the album, weaving its way through death metal blastbeats and more complex, melodic material with equal ease. On the downside, singer Corey Taylor goes flat on occasion, and the musical contribution of both percussionists remains murky at best.
Nonetheless, it's rare that a live album truly replicates the experience of being there, but "9.0 Live" definitely captures the aggression, power and underrated abilities of SLIPKNOT in a punchy mix, courtesy of the great Colin Richardson, that probably beats out an actual live show in terms of clarity. Whether you love them or hate them, there are reasons why SLIPKNOT is a tremendously successful band, and "9.0 Live" documents one of them in the strongest possible fashion.