As of Halloween it has been 17 years since Slipknot released their debut album Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat. It’s fitting I was 17 when I first heard the band so thought it was only right on this anniversary to re-visit and review the album.
With just 1,000 copies released and now considered a demo by the band, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat lives in legend among rabid fans across the world. With pirated copies in most formats circulating since 1997, an original sealed copy sold for just under $1,000. As of 2003 no current member owns a copy. Luckily I know someone who does.
Opening with ‘Slipknot’, the track builds and builds. And builds. After almost two-and-a-half minutes, the Iowa-based group burst into full swing with an industrial, distorted sound and Anders Colsefni’s (the original frontman) vocals shining through. It’s a classic metal sound throughout with the lyrical blocks already in place that were placed into ‘(Sic)’ – “You can’t see me, for I hide within the Umbra” becoming “You can’t kill me, ’cause I’m already inside you”. The guitar line from this opening track also re-appears on the debut album Slipknot. It’s a gritty start from the band and one that sets the scene well for what’s to come.
‘Gently’ unleashes some of the monster guitar lines that the band will become famous for. Originally an instrumental track written by Shawn Crahan, Corey amended some lyrics for the track’s appearance on Iowa 12 years later. The lyrics are almost identical on both versions but the general sound and feel of the track not so much.
Funk-metal isn’t usually a term you read too often and certainly not something I expected writing but ‘Do Nothing/Bitchslap’ is exactly that. You really need to hear it to believe it – it’s a work of brilliance. The Jazz-Disco-Metal genre should have absolutely survived beyond this. The lyrics are a bit on the unimpressive side, but in terms of pushing boundaries musically this is as good as a demo gets from a metal band. I particularly like the great lyric “Man you’re like a school in the summer, no class”.
‘Only One’ was re-used on Slipknot with some extra samples and sharpened vocals. This version isn’t as hip-hop as Corey moulded it into later but was much rawer and, without the samples has a more D.I.Y angsty feel to it. The guitars are great and the lyric “Only one of us walks away” sounds more powerful and angrier than the later version on Slipknot.
‘Tattered And Torn’ has one of the most memorable intros on the album. Sounding like the theme from a horror movie in the 70’s it builds menacingly throughout. Unlike the more polished version that made Slipknot, the lead guitar line has a horrific screech to it that is piercing when played at a high volume. Magnificent stuff. Shawn Crahan (Clown) said of this track in an interview “If you understand ‘Tattered And Torn’ you understand the Clown”. The version on Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat hasn’t been played since 1996.
‘Confessions’ shows off the bands soulful side (never thought I’d write that either in a Slipknot review) and really demonstrates what the original vision of the original band was – pushing boundaries and blending styles to create their unique sound. The guitars wouldn’t be out-of-place in Miami Vice and the solo by – then – guitarist Donnie Steele is excellent. There is also some funk-bass and a hip-hop vocal delivery too and at just over 5 minutes in length there’s time for it all.
Now for something more familiar; ‘Some Feel’ is a real heavy, heavy track. With some solid guitar riffing throughout, it’s a beast of a track and the outro is an absolute monster setting the album up to its monstrous finale.
‘Killers Are Quiet’ is the perfect closer. It builds as the opening track did in an enormous fashion. At nearly 11 minutes in length it’s a show of how the band bring the noise and, arguably, shaped the later menacing sound of the band minus the funk-jazz-disco tones heard throughout. The bassline (you’ll recognise it from the second album) shapes the beginning with Joey Jordison using a crashing slow, heavy beat. Described by some as sounding like a soundtrack to a murder, it’s particularly unsettling with the bends on the guitar, the samples of power tools and roars followed by the explosion back in to action.
‘Dogfish’ is a hidden track bursting with samples that you could argue didn’t need to be there. All things considered it’s a perfect end to a brilliant album. Whether is is debut or demo is irrelevant – it’s the sound of a band making their own sound and interesting to hear for a re-visiting fan to understand how songs on later albums evolved.