Roadrunner – 2001 – 66 minutes

Travis fans look away now. Ever since Slipknot put a brick through the music industry window with their 1999 debut, they've reigned supreme as the kings of gutter metal. There's nine of them – in masks and boiler suits – their lyrics are the ultimate in bottom of the barrel philosophy, they make scene godfathers, Slayer, look like friends of the elderly and you imagine that if Coppola was to remake 'Apocalypse Now' the 'Knot would be the houseband upriver.

Now, after acres of hype and hubris arrives album number two, named after their homestate and every bit as dark and cranky as the goat which adorns its front cover. While countless metal acts have failed to live up to their first albums (Korn, Machine Head etc), there's no such problem for the Midwesterners. Supercharged, diabolically distorted and wringing instruments for every penny's worth, they deliver blast beats, nuts vocals and choruses which would have anyone wondering whether they should call a priest for their loved one singing along upstairs.

For conviction and ferocity, 'Iowa' slams anything across countless genres but Slipknot can let anger cloud their judgment. For a band featuring both a DJ and a sampler, there are too many instances where their talents get swallowed up in the mix. And at one hour plus, it's a case of masks off for value for money but no brownie points for saying in 66 minutes what they could say in 45.

The best moments are when they don't go straight for the throat: 'Gently' builds to a chaotic finale, while the title track moves on a quiet-loud axis of distorted bass and even more twisted lyrics – compare these songs to the throwaway 'The Shape' and you see the direction they should be going in. Whether any Slipknot fans will notice such shortcomings however, is another thing, because 'Iowa' is destined to become the scariest multiplatinum record since, well, forever. Kids will love it, parents will hate it and anyone over the age of 20 will scratch their head and wonder what all the fuss is about.

Many had Slipknot down as a one-act freakshow, but on the evidence of 'Iowa' they're only just getting warmed up and should give the competition nightmares for a long time to come.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: (515) - Disasterpiece - My Plague - Everything Ends - The Heretic Anthem - Gently - Left Behind - The Shape - I Am Hate - Skin Ticket - New Abortion - Metabolic - Iowa