Slipknot's latest opens with "Prelude 3.0," whose dark melody and lulling vocals are almost enough to transform the masked hoodlums into an MTV powerhouse. This charade is quickly killed by an ultra-thrash song, though, and Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses) continues in inconsistent fashion by offering up something for everybody to hate. Metalheads might pat themselves on the back for opening up to the softer material on Verses, but the unplugged songs are really a half-baked fusion of Puddle of Mudd and Dashboard Confessional. Slipknot's split personality fails in "The Nameless," which turns from death metal to crooning cheese so abruptly that it sounds like a joke, while "Before I Forget" and "Opium of the People" are shoddy imitations of Pantera and System of a Down, respectively. Louder songs lack the speed and paranoia of Slipknot's past efforts, yet the band still holds its metal roots in a vise grip, as more than half the album depends on nasty chords and frantic drumming, so the changes in Slipknot's formula won't win over any mosh-fearers. Verses wins points for the risks, but only die-hard fans will fall for this album's pseudo-evolution.


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