Anyone with their finger on the pulse of music news will have noticed longtime metal band Slipknot gracing headlines over the past several months, and for many reasons. As a fan myself, I have been eagerly awaiting the release of the band’s sixth studio album, We Are Not Your Kind (pre-order below), which is their first record since their 2014 release of .5: The Gray Chapter. Recently, the band released a music video for “Unsainted,” starring a new but unknown band member. This is a song that has been confirmed to be releasing on the upcoming album, and the entire situation has sparked a stir of conversation and speculation as everyone is asking: who is the mystery man behind the mask?
Slipknot fans are well aware of the traditional nine member roster, each one donning a unique mask, which has set the band apart for years. After forming in 1995, they underwent several lineup changes, as many bands do. Upon finding a solid team, Slipknot found success, with 10 Grammy Award nominations and one win. Unfortunately, on May 24th 2010, bassist Paul Gray passed away from a drug overdose. Gray’s spot was eventually filled by current bassist, Alessandro Venturella. However, this would not be the last of the band’s experience with tragedy and misfortune.
In 2013, fans were hit with the news of drummer Joey Jordison’s departure from the band, leaving percussionist Shawn “Clown” Crahan as the last founding member. Although there has been some speculation that there might be more to the story, it has been made common knowledge that the decision to part ways was due to Jordison’s struggle with transverse myelitis, a neurological disease hindering his ability to fill such a demanding role in the band. His spot was later filled by Slipknot’s current drummer, Jay Weinberg.
Controversy struck the band this past March with the departure of yet another longtime band member, Chris Fehn. According to Revolver, this was due to a money dispute. With Slipknot focusing on their upcoming album and tour, a replacement for the percussionist has yet to be announced. However, when video for “Unsainted” was released, people were quick to notice nine different masks as if no members are missing.
Taking to social media, fans have been theorizing the identity of Fehn’s replacement. Just over a week ago, Revolver reported one fan theory that caught the attention of Slipknot frontman, Corey Taylor, which he seemed to find humorously entertaining, judging by his response on Twitter. This theory dives deep into metaphors and symbolism suggesting that Taylor is, in fact, the unidentified member, meaning Fehn will not be replaced and the roster will be remain with a headcount of eight. This was quickly disproved with nine members sharing a stage when the band played on Jimmy Kimmel Live!
It’s always possible that Slipknot added a temporary replacement in Fehn’s absence, which they have done in the past following the loss of a member. This could also be one elaborate publicity stunt to regain the spotlight after their last hiatus… but that just doesn’t seem like their style. Maybe the devil is in the details along with possible truth behind an April Fools’ joke.
On the first of last month, a couple of articles were published stating with excitement the return of Joey Jordison, announcing that he would be assisting Crahan on percussion. This was, of course, followed by a link to a YouTube video indicating that your ass had just been pranked. But is this so far fetched of an idea? After all, Jordison continues to drum for the rock band, Vimic, and the metal band, Sinsaenum, proving that he still has the ability and desire to play. Since Fehn was a percussionist alongside Crahan, filling this role could be a little less demanding for the band’s original drummer than hammering away behind the kit.
Jordison’s return could easily be dismissed as a April Fools’ Day prank. However, an Altpress article published last November quotes Jordison as he teases about demos he has developed, stating that they may surface one day… or they may never be heard at all. He continued by saying that he does not foresee himself releasing this material to any band besides Slipknot.
Does any of this solidify the identity of the unknown Slipknot member? Of course not. The unidentified percussionist could very well be someone relatively unknown with whom the band formed a friendship with over years of recording and touring.
Speculations aside, it seems that Slipknot does not intend to release the official information any time soon. In a very recent interview with Kerrang!, Crahan made it clear that the identity of Slipknot’s newest member is “nobody’s fucking business” before suggesting that it will be up to the fans to figure it out when the band embarks on their next world-wide tour.