In a move almost certain to divide their rabid fan base, Grammy-winning American metal band Slipknot go even further along the experimental route with their sixth album, We Are Not Your Kind.
The new release comes five years after the masked Iowa nonet's previous full-length work, .5: The Gray Chapter, which, like their 2008 release All Hope Is Gone, topped the Billboard album charts.
It is also the first album since the acrimonious split with percussionist Chris Fehn in March this year.
The distorted guitars and pummelling drums are still crushingly heavy - surely a boon for fans of the 24-year-old band's early material.
Yet, the band also liberally add non-metal embellishments such as toy piano tinklings in What's Next and the funk-inflected Spiders.
My Pain is seven minutes of atmospheric psychedelia, driven by gauzy synthesizers and layered, chant-like singing. The track manages to be eerie and melodic at the same time.
Lyrically, frontman Corey Taylor is candid about his battle with depression. But instead of dwelling on misery, the singer seems more intent on overcoming his afflictions.
"I didn't come this far to sink so low/I'm finally holding on to letting go," he sings on Unsainted, which sees the band working with a choir for the first time.
GROOVE METAL / ALTERNATIVE METAL
WE ARE NOT YOUR KIND
Rating: 4 Stars
He addresses his condition again on Birth Of The Cruel ("Now's not the time for denying"), a hefty track marked by a maelstrom of percussion, samples and scratching.
Death Because Of Death, also built around samples, is a droning electronic soundscape with chant-like singing.
Taylor, famous for his impassioned growls, employs unvarnished vocals on the hook-laden chorus and bridge on Critical Darling, another track with an ambient bent.
The percussive Nero Forte showcases the band's canny knack for melodies, with catchy falsetto harmonies adorning the chorus.
A Liar's Funeral toggles between its gentle acoustic verses and caustic choruses, anchored by slithering riffs from guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thomson. The pair seems to have built up quite a symbiotic relationship with drummer Jay Weinberg, one of the band's newest members.
Red Flag, with its blast beat drums, is fast and furious, while Orphan is classic Slipknot, featuring angry and unhinged verses that give way to earworm choruses fit for arena singalongs and introspective listens.
Make no mistake, the band's expanded musical palette has not made them any less thrilling.