Is Voliminial: Inside the Nine supposed to be something that will reignite interest in Slipknot? Their way of saying to the public (after Stone Sour and the Murderdolls, a few of their side projects, have made waves), “OK, we’re not quite ready to get a new album out yet, but hang in there”?
Probably. Though the band’s third studio LP, Vol 3: The Subliminal Verses, came out a full two years ago now, almost all of this DVD’s frames are in a way devoted to that album, the making of that album, and the touring behind that album, and that’s what any would-be buyer of Voliminal needs to know. It would have made more sense to release it as a companion package on the day that disc came out, or shortly after, not when the album’s momentum has all but gone and the world is anticipating something new.
Even lead singer Corey Taylor says Slipknot’s a very small part of him: assuming he’s talking about putting a mask on, donning a jumpsuit and giving yourself a number; and screaming on stage with your crew, some eight other members. It so happens that it is hard to take a group like that seriously at first sight, even if they sing about something like equality or world peace (which, to their credit, they certainly don’t). Nonetheless, Voliminial, a mishmash of home videos taken by the band’s percussionist Clown (#6), works fairly well at breaking down several major myths about rock star life, and playing out the daily nuances of life inside the team, including seeing them without their masks!
It comes wrapped in a case with an accompanying booklet containing some original artwork and, extremely charitably, their names (face it, how is anyone supposed to remember a band that has more personalities than the Pussycat Dolls?). Disc One is a purely artsy hour-and-a-half feature, flashing between often completely unrelated scenes. Few music DVDs have ever pioneered the use of black and white like this one does. The thing is, it’s hard to deliver a judgment on it, because its contents are so mixed, and difficult to describe on paper. The best bits, of course, are the ones with songs in them and the energy they can inspire: especially when Taylor yells “Jump da fuck up!” into the crowd. In one recording, Clown himself yells his line into the ear of a security guard. A drum solo by ‘lead’ drummer Joey Jordison is actually impressive because, unlike the audio one provided on last year’s 9.0: Live, you’re able to see where on his extensive drum kit his sticks are going — in one instance, he even plays flawlessly one-handed!
Other than that, they struggle to keep the segues moving through 90 minutes of raw home camera-rolling; we don’t really need to hear any number of band members or roadies saying “fuck”, or see someone parade onstage in his birthday suit, or be treated to someone unnamed testing his aspiring rap career, in which he rhymes the line “Shot down like John F. Kennedy”. Even the toilet they keep returning to is symbolic of some of the tired jokes that, respectfully, should be left buried within their circle.
Disc 2 is the real gem of the release, a conventionally laid out overview of Vol 3 and the message behind it. Not only are the live selections better in quality, they also portray full songs, some of Slipknot’s biggest hits. Besides that, it’s just enormously satisfying to see them all working together live, their expressions unreadable, playing music that’s heavier than it is on the record and sounds more down-tuned, if that’s possible. Corey Taylor tells the crowd to do something, and they do it. They frequently make use of ‘doomsday marching band drumming’ on stage — seeing as they’ve got two custom percussionists, I suppose they have to – and evidently make it a point of theirs to play in a wide range of different venues. There’s synchronized headbanging to be seen in “Eyeless”, a vicious “Pulse of the Maggots” that feels empty without its introduction, and Iowa’s “The Heretic Anthem” performed in Tokyo — the most melodic of their tunes are in fact the weakest live.
Sludgy guitars grind in on a disappointing “Duality”, though it’s almost redeemed by the sight of Clown banging his tin can. “Vermillion” is half-hearted, delivered in a theater with ultra-modern green lighting, and the rousing if blase chorus of “People=Shit” comes last.
There’s some revealing interviews with all but one taking part in their daily lives, although it is a little disturbing to hear them (like Metallica) make the words fans and kids synonymous. Don’t they have any other audience? Frontman Corey reveals where some of his anger comes from (he didn’t know his father until he was well past his adolescence), and drummer Jordison claims “Only the nine of us know what it’s like [to be Slipknot]”, something that’s easier to believe after watching side A. He quickly corrects himself with a predictable “And everyone who buys one of our records… I have something in common with each one of them.”
As far as videos go, they’re pretty good, including one that was never released (“Vermillion Part 2”, an interesting acoustic detour for the band), and what else you’d expect: “Duality”, a montage of piano bass notes and stop-star guitar chunks, whose clip shows a group of fans tearing down furniture and ‘partying’ with the band — watch out for the guy with the spiky mask, kids! — the original “Vermillion”, starring an Avril lookalike, and two others, “Before I Forget” and “The Nameless”.
There’s something very fans only about Voliminial that will make some people want to keep away; yet even if the whole thing was comprised only of the second disc, it would still be a marginally worthwhile purchase. The ultimate question is how must this nonet get on, something the band themselves can’t seem to figure out in the interviews, and this DVD offers few answers, but Inside the Nine is quite engaging enough to tie you over until the next Slipknot album is released.