Since the death of bassist Paul Gray there has been a cloud hanging over the mere concept of a new Slipknot album. Since then, there have been Slipknot gigs around the world, and drummer Joey Jordison has parted ways with the band. Yet it never felt as if Paul Gray was being replaced. His presence was always there, with the band, and here it remains, 6 years after All Hope is Gone and with three Stone Sour albums in between.

Corey Taylor’s pseudo-raps are back, the anger is back, and on this record, the guitars get a chance to shine like they never have outside solos in previous Slipknot albums, besides maybe in ‘Before I forget’ from Vol. 3: The Subliminal Verses. Even in ‘The Devil and I’, probably the song that most screams out ‘single’ on the album, every layer of the song is refreshing, and at the same time fierce and unrelenting.

The only real disappointment in the album is ‘Skeptic’, and that’s a hard thing to admit given that the song is a direct tribute to the memory of Paul Gray. It is still a great song, but its lyrics do not quite match up with the sound. This may be a first-listen problem, and it by no means lets down the album or even makes a dent on its quality. It is enjoyable, it’s just a slight kink in an otherwise polished suit of armour.

The Gray Chapter is powerful, dark and, honestly, the best Slipknot album in over a decade. The band do not brush over the death of their friend, they take that grief and anger and let it out. This is an angry album, and it shows. It sounds, to be frank, like Slipknot have grown back into their own sound, after so long trying others on for size.

[rating:5]