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Slipknot’s shocking heavy metal provides catharsis at the Sprint Center

Corey Taylor of Slipknot performed Nov. 19 at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The heavy metal band, which is touring in support of “.5: The Gray Chapter,” performed Wednesday night at the Sprint Center. The record is the band’s first studio album since 2008 and the first without Paul Gray, a founding member who died in 2010.
Corey Taylor of Slipknot performed Nov. 19 at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore. The heavy metal band, which is touring in support of “.5: The Gray Chapter,” performed Wednesday night at the Sprint Center. The record is the band’s first studio album since 2008 and the first without Paul Gray, a founding member who died in 2010. Invision/AP

Balls of fire erupted from the stage each time Corey Taylor screamed “I’m 666” during “The Heretic Anthem” at the Sprint Center on Wednesday. More than 5,000 fans basked in the warm glow of the pyrotechnics.

Taylor’s band, Slipknot, has leveraged playful blasphemy into a successful career. The heavy metal band is touring in support of “.5: The Gray Chapter,” its first studio album since 2008 and the first without Paul Gray, a founding member who died in 2010. The powerful release is the band’s second consecutive title to top Billboard magazine’s album chart.

Wednesday night’s 95-minute headlining outing indicated that the masked band from Iowa remains potent 15 years after the release of its debut album.

The tiered stage set resembled the entrance to a malevolent funhouse. A pagan idol hung atop the menacing scenery. The stage was flanked by two hydraulic lifts that supported spinning platforms for percussionists.

A brutally ugly blend of industrial metal and contemptuous punk, Slipknot’s music is aggressively abrasive. Aside from a rendition of the melodic 2008 hit “Dead Memories,” almost all of the material performed by Slipknot could be used as effective emergency alarms at a nuclear facility.

Slipknot resembled a satanic drum corps on the percussion-laden “Psychosocial.” As the audience chanted, “I am the damaged one” on “The Blister Exists,” Slipknot sounded like a polyrhythmic version of the Ramones.

The disconcerting cacophony possessed therapeutic qualities. Slipknot’s hateful music and dystopian visions triggered cathartic reactions in hundreds of the band’s loyalists.

Korn, the band that headlined Rockfest at Penn Valley Park in May, is touring with Slipknot. An odd mutation of disparate styles, Korn’s attack is akin to an accidental pairing of the funk giant Rick James and the hard-rock titans Deep Purple.

Vocalist Jonathan Davis’ spasmodic warbling on the 1994 favorite “Blind” and the 1999 hit “Freak on a Leash” thrilled the audience during the California band’s 50-minute set.

The selection of King 810 to open the tour initially seemed odd. The band from Michigan sounds uncannily like the headliners. Yet King 810’s outing was so masterful that it served as a brief testimonial to the indisputable significance of Slipknot.

Setlist

Sarcastrophe; The Heretic Anthem; My Plague; The Devil in I; Psychosocial; The Negative One; Disasterpiece; Opium of the People; Dead Memories; Before I Forget; Duality; The Blister Exists; Spit It Out; Custer; (Sic); People = S***; Surfacing.

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