Happy birthday to Joey Jordison, the longtime drummer for Slipknot and touring percussionist with Rob Zombie, who turned 40 today. Although his former band continues to go strong—.5: The Gray Chapter topped the Billboard 200, and the new guy (supposedly former Against Me! drummer Jay Weinberg) seems to be doing alright—yet fans can't help but miss Jordison, long considered to be the most instrumentally sound member of the metal collective. All we can do is hope for an anniversary in the future, but for the moment let's reflect on some of Jordison's more impressive tracks:
Slipknot came into widespread awareness at a time where the term "metal" meant something that most fans of the genre would rather forget...nu-metal. Limp Bizkit is the go-to disaster that fans use to typify the scene but the fact remains that even the most influential of metal bands, such as Slayer, were influenced by the trend. Many note that, at least among more mainstream forms of metal, that double-bass drum blastbeats began to fall out of prominence (again, Slayer was without Dave Lombardo, the king of the double-bass drum approach). Many attribute the rebirth of the style to Slipknot, the album widely recognized as the debut for the group, as having a hand (or foot) in bringing the bass drum back to its rightful place. Despite the use of sampling and other influences more often affiliated with nu-metal, Jordison emphasized the "metal" over the "nu" with his persistent hammering on tracks such as "(sic)." There's no way to prove if Jordison and Slipknot influenced later bass-happy drummers such as The Rev of Avenged Sevenfold or Chris Adler of Lamb of God, but we'd be willing to palce a bet.
"Heretic Anthem" (2001)
Slipknot's success—topping the Billboard 200 with its last two albums—isn't based on Jordison's drum prowess, even if most acknowledge it as one of the best parts of any Slipknot album. The band's popularity is based on its knack for writing hooks, such as those included on single "Duality." Corey Taylor's melodic moments don't exactly require the kind of machine-gun rhythms that Jordison has become known for, therefore the drummer began to temper his approach along with the rest of the band around the release of 2001's Iowa, and crowd favorite "The Heretic Anthem" demonstrates just how wildly different the percussionist could perform within just one song. The verses—which, forgive us, not many people pay attention to during Slipknot songs—are full of Jordison at his rapid-fire best. Then, when Taylor gets to that hook, his drummer drops back and does just enough to keep push the song forward while the crowd sings along.
"The Blister Exists" (2004)
The evolution of Slipknot continued onto the band's third big release, Vol. 3 (The Subliminal Verses), and some didn't like what they heard...after all, does a ballad such as "Vermilion" belong on an album from this band? Those arguments aside, Jordison continued to adapt his sound accordingly, working on his technicality without necessarily lowering his volume. The first true track on the album, "The Blister Exists," revels in a more subtle, off-kilter rhythm than the straight-ahead juggernaut that he tended to unleash on previous releases. Nonetheless, it was easily classifiable as a Jordison riff from the get-go.
"All Hope Is Gone" (2008)
"Psychosocial" would go on to be the most popular track off of Slipknot's bestselling album All Hope Is Gone, but few tracks demonstrate the Slipknot sound better than the title track, which closed the album out. From Jordison's perspective, the strategy was very much the same as what we saw on "Heretic Anthem": The drummer hammered quick and heavy (to complement seemingly improvised ranting of Taylor) before dropping back to back the anthemic hook. Jordison doesn't deserve all of the credit here however: Many often question why Slipknot needs so many members, especially Shawn Crahan and Chris Fehn, two members who primarily play single toms or other forms of percussion. When you add those guys on top of Jordison, you get the ideal Slipknot sound...somewhat a high-school marching band from hell, the perfect backdrop to the fist-pumping hook from "All Hope Is Gone."
Jordison formally left Slipknot during late 2013...leaving many wondering what he would do in the meantime. The drummer had plenty of side projects however, including Scar The Martyr, which released its self-titled debut earlier that year. Listen to "Blood Host" and you might not be that impressed. How much different is Jordison's playing (or the rest of the band's sound, for that matter) from Slipknot? You'd be right...not all that much. We wouldn't recommend Scar The Martyr over any particular Slipknot album but we have to give him kudos for recording most of the instruments on this album by himself. Bassists, guitarists and vocalists trade instruments often, but it's more rare to see a drummer put the sticks down and pick up an axe.