Released: August 28th, 2001
Label: Roadrunner Records
Producer: Ross Robinson and Slipknot
Recorded: Sound City, Van Nuys, CA & Sound Image, Van Nuys, CA.
Mixed: Andy Wallace at Soundtrack Studios, NYC.
Mastered: George Marino at Sterling Sound, NYC
CD barcode: 8714221006209
Cover art: Creative Directions and Photography Concepts: Shawn Crahan. Slipknot logo & Tribal-S logo design: Nathan Jonas Jordison. Photography: Stefan Seskis. Band Photography: Neil Zlozower.
Format: Compact Disc, Cassette and Vinyl
1. (515) - 0:59
2. People = Shit - 3:35
3. Disasterpiece - 5:08
4. My Plague - 3:40
5. Everything Ends - 4:14
6. The Heretic Anthem - 4:14
7. Gently - 4:54
8. Left Behind - 4.01
9. The Shape - 3:37
10. I Am Hated - 2:37
11. Skin Ticket - 6:41
12. New Abortion - 3:36
13. Metabolic - 3:49
14. Iowa - 15:03
Japanese Bonus Track
15. Liberate (live) - 4:25
Iowa is the second album by Slipknot. Released by Roadrunner Records on August 28, 2001, it was produced by Ross Robinson and Slipknot. The title derives from the band’s home state, Iowa, which members have stated is one of their biggest sources of inspiration. They chose the name “Iowa” because they love their home state. It’s their home, it’s the place where their anger and their pain was fucking killing them. The cover of the album shows the head of a goat (Clown still has it somewhere at home…), an image the band incorporated into their live set, on their boiler suits, and in the video for “Left Behind”, as the band felt they had been held as scapegoats since the release of Slipknot.
With much anticipation for the band’s second album following on the success of their 1999 self-titled debut, Slipknot, pressures on the band were high. Their relationships with each other suffered and was later described as the darkest time of their career. It was also the first time that guitarist Jim Root had been significantly involved in a Slipknot album due to his joining very late in recording of Slipknot (he only appeared on two songs on that album). Despite troubles within the band and with this album’s development, Slipknot promoted it for almost a year.
Iowa premiered in the top ten album sales charts in nine countries. Generally positively received, it includes some of their notable songs, such as “Left Behind”, and an edited remix of “My Plague”, each of which was nominated for a Grammy Award, in 2002 and 2003 respectively. Critic John Mulvey proclaimed the album, as the “absolute triumph of nu metal”. While more technical than their debut album, Iowa is considered to be the band’s heaviest. It has been certified platinum in Canada and the United States.
The song “I Am Hated” was featured in the 2003 video game Amplitude and was also performed in the film Rollerball while the song “My Plague” was remixed on the Resident Evil soundtrack.
Iowa was recorded and produced at Sound City and Sound Image studios in Los Angeles, California with producer Ross Robinson, who had produced their debut album. Drummer Joey Jordison and bassist Paul Gray began working on new music together in October 2000 and together they wrote material for most of the tracks on the album. During this time other band members wanted a break following the extensive touring which followed their debut album, Slipknot. However, on January 17, 2001, Slipknot entered the studio to work on their highly anticipated sophomore album. This period in the band’s career has became known as one of their worst for several reasons. Jordison stated retrospectively, “that’s where we got into a war” citing the lack of a break for himself and Gray. While other factors, including: vocalist Corey Taylor’s alcohol addiction, several other members’ drug addictions, management issues and more, affected relations in the band.
Despite being a member of Slipknot since 1999, it was the first album where guitarist Jim Root had been significantly involved. He had joined them during the later recording stages of Slipknot and subsequently became more involved with this album. During an interview with Guitar magazine in November 2001 he explained, “it was so exciting as well as scary to be part of this whole huge process”, adding that there was a lot of pressure from fellow guitarist Mick Thomson to perform well on the record. In an interview with FHM in December 2001, vocalist Corey Taylor revealed that he put himself in specific situations to achieve his performance on the album. While recording vocals for the final song “Iowa” he was completely naked, vomiting all over himself and cutting himself with broken glass. Explaining this, he said, “that’s where the best stuff comes from. You’ve got to break yourself down before you can build something great.” While producing the album, Ross Robinson broke his back in a dirt-biking accident, he returned to the studio after a day, reportedly “putting all of his pain into the album”, much to the admiration of the band.
There was speculation over the title before its announcement with Nine Men, One Mission as the expected title in some sources. Iowa was later announced as its title and was named after the band’s home state of Iowa. Band members have claimed that Iowa is the source of their energy and they consciously made the decision to stay in the area, partly due to the fear of losing their creative direction. The opening track “(515)” is also a reference to their home state, named after the telephone area code for central Iowa. Initially the album was scheduled for release on June 19, 2001, and was to be preceded by a five-date warm-up tour. However, the mixing of the album took longer than anticipated, causing the album’s release to be delayed and the cancellation of the tour. The album was officially released on August 28, 2001. In support of the album, Slipknot began touring on their Iowa World Tour. This included: a spot on Ozzfest in 2001, an American co-headlining tour with System of a Down, as well as tours in Japan, Europe and elsewhere.
Prior to the album’s release, Slipknot gave away “The Heretic Anthem” as a single limited to 666 copies and a free downloadable track on their website. The first official single from the album was “Left Behind”. In 2002, the band made a special appearance in the film Rollerball in which they performed “I Am Hated”. Following this, a second single from the album was released, “My Plague”, which appeared on the soundtrack for the film Resident Evil.
Musical and lyrical themes:
The musical style of Slipknot is a contested issue due to the variety of genres their music covers. Sources usually group Slipknot within nu metal while also showing influences from other genres, such as heavy metal, rap metal, and alternative metal. Prior to its release, band members promised a much darker and heavier album than Slipknot, and many sources praised the band for achieving this — effectively fulfilling their promises. During an interview in 2008, percussionist Shawn Crahan retrospectively evaluated their time creating the album, proclaiming that they owe their overtly darker sound to their state of mind during that period: “When we did Iowa, we hated each other. We hated the world; the world hated us.” Iowa, unlike its predecessor, saw Robinson capturing the band’s technicality as opposed to the raw energy for which Slipknot is known. The band was also praised for its use of an extended line-up consisting of additional percussionists and electronics. NME stated that “every possible space is covered in scrawl and cymbals: guitars, percussion, electronic squall, subhuman screaming.” Although Iowa is widely regarded as the band’s heaviest album to date, some tracks do include melody, most apparent in “Everything Ends” and “Left Behind”; however these tracks are still considered heavy when compared to the likes of “Vermilion” or “Dead Memories”.
Iowa follows the lyrical style that vocalist Corey Taylor established on Slipknot; it includes strong use of metaphors to describe overtly dark themes including misanthropy, solipsism, disgust, anger, disaffection, psychosis and rejection. The album also includes many expletives; David Fricke of the Rolling Stone magazine said “there is not much shock value left in the words fuck and shit, which Taylor uses in some variation more than forty times in Iowa’s sixty-six minutes.” Fricke went on to praise Taylor’s performance on the track “Iowa”, comparing it to a “vivid evocation of a makeshift-cornfield grave at midnight.”
Following the huge success of their debut album, Slipknot, author Dick Porter wrote that the anticipation for a follow up was intense. Prior to its release, drummer Jordison proclaimed: “Wait till you hear our fuckin’ next record. It smokes our first album. The shit’s twice as technical, three times as heavy.” The College Music Journal reviewed it as “brutal, unrelenting, scorching…” Many reviews noted its heavy themes, the Alternative Press stated, “[it is] like having a plastic bag taped over your head for an hour while Satan uses your scrotum as a speedbag….[It] is over the top…you’re going to be left in stitches.” NME said that it is “Exhilarating, brutal and good.” Rolling Stone credited the album for its originality, “nearly everything else in modern doom rock sounds banal.” Producer Robinson was also praised for his work on the album; Uncut noted, “The barely relenting, tumbling noise attack marshalled by nu metal uber-producer Ross Robinson is expert.” Reviewing for Yahoo, John Mulvey said, “They’re an evolutionary dead end, the final, absolute triumph of nu metal.”
The album’s first single, “Left Behind”, was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Metal Performance at the 44th Grammy Awards. The second single, “My Plague”, was nominated in 2003 for the same award at the 45th Grammy Awards. The single “Left Behind” peaked in the top thirty for single sales the United States and the UK. In addition, “My Plague” reached the 43rd position on the UK charts. Iowa was ranked sixth in the “50 Albums of the year” by NME in 2001. The album peaked at the top position on the UK Albums Chart, in addition to the second spot on the ARIA Charts in Australia. The album reached the third spot on the Billboard 200 and Finnish Charts. On October 10, 2001, the album was certified platinum in the United States. In Canada, the Canadian Recording Industry Association certified the album as Platinum, on September 5, 2001. The British Phonographic Industry has certified the album as gold in the UK. In 2009, Iowa was rated 3rd in UK magazine Kerrang!’s “The 50 Best Albums of the 21st Century” reader poll.
Rolling Stone (10/11/01, p.90) – 4 stars out of 5 – “Next to Iowa’s hell-hop polydrumming and nail-bomb showers of soprano-drone guitar and sampled squeal, nearly everything else in modern doom rock sounds banal….With Iowa Slipknot go to the head of the slag heap, the new kings of extreme.”
Q (10/01, p.130) – 4 stars out of 5 – “A punk pipebomb pointed at the mainstream and ready to blow.”
Uncut (11/01, p.120) – 3 1/2 stars out of 5 – “The barely relenting, tumbling noise attack marshalled by nu-metal uber-producer Ross Robinson is expert.”
Alternative Press (9/01, p.75) – 7 out of 10 – “Like having a plastic bag taped over your head for an hour while Satan uses your scrotum as a speedbag….[It] is over the top…you’re going to be left in stitches.”
CMJ (10/1/01, p.13) – “Brutal, unrelenting, scorching…”
NME (12/29/01, p.59) – Ranked #6 in NME’s 50 “Albums Of the Year 2001″ – 8 out of 10 – “Exhilarating, brutal and good….Like the art of the insane, every possible space is covered in scrawl and cymbals…”
Gold – October 10, 2001
Platinum – October 10, 2001
Around mid-2006 a new version of Iowa was released with the cover artwork slightly altered to having many different colors as opposed to the original shiny version, and the inlay lyrics had been printed on normal album sleeve paper instead of the original use of transparent paper. Again, the artwork was slightly altered in this too.
Members who recorded the Album:
#0 – Sid Wilson (turntables)
#1 – Joey Jordison (drums)
#2 – Paul Gray (bass)
#3 – Chris Fehn (custom percussion/back-up vocals)
#4 – Jim Root (guitar)
#5 – Craig Jones (sampling)
#6 – Shawn Crahan (custom percussion/back-up vocals)
#7 – Mick Thomson (guitar)
#8 – Corey Taylor (vocals)