With every new Slipknot album comes a new set of masks, but over the weekend, frontman Corey Taylor broke with tradition when he debuted a terrifying new visage during the band's first performance in over a year. There's still no official word on when fans should expect to hear the "god music" that Clown was eagerly teasing earlier this spring, but a new mask usually signals something's on the way.
In the meantime, we wanted to look back on the seven different major guises Taylor has adopted throughout each era of the band's career. Slipknot have always had one of the coolest and most unique aesthetics in metal history, and at least one of their members reveals a batshit new facial covering during each album cycle, but Taylor's masks have often been among the creepiest and most captivating of the Nine. Below are all of them, ranked from worst to best.
Sadly, the mask that Taylor first rocked in support of Slipknot's latest album, 2019's We Are Not Your Kind, pales in comparison to all the others on this list. With bloated cheeks, squinty eyes and a translucent green color that resembles a beached sunfish, the piece looked like it was bought in the Halloween section of a pharmacy — or as some fans pointed out, the dairy section of the grocery store — and it always seemed to fit awkwardly on Taylor's face. Worst of all, it wasn't the least bit scary. Thankfully, it only gets (much) better from here.
Slipknot's 2008 album, All Hope Is Gone, marked a bold new era for the band as they attempted to follow up three show-stopping records as bona fide metal superstars. The visuals for this time period were spectacular — particularly Joey Jordison's iconic crown of thorns and Clown's gimp mask — but Taylor's hairless, dead-eyed mug was somewhat underwhelming compared to his previous three masks. The almost wooden-like simplicity of it is certainly striking, but it lacks the skin-crawling "x" factor that defined many of his other getups.
Taylor's mask that accompanied the band's 2014 album, .5: The Gray Chapter, were a satisfying course correction. Between the goblin-esque nose, Glasgow smile stitches through the cheeks and the more human-like eyes than his last one, it definitely has the uncanny characteristics that gave his early masks such a frightening feel. Extra points for the surprise element of the removable top section, which peels away to reveal what looks like The Engineer from Prometheus.
For the first time in the band's history, Taylor unveiled a totally brand-new mask without a new album announcement to go along with it. On September 4th, Slipknot played their first show in some 18 months at the Rocklahoma festival, and Taylor was sporting a positively disturbing new mug that looks like a Tim Burton character come to life. Or a Cenobite. Or is it Dr. Decker from Nightbreed? Whatever your choice reference point, it looks unlike any other mask in Taylor's repertoire, and at the same time, cleverly seems to nod to them all.
Slipknot's 2004 album, Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses), saw the band take their sound in a more cinematic direction, and Taylor's look followed suit. His dead skin mask from that era looks like a decaying corpse, or perhaps the faces of multiple corpses sewn together the way Leatherface did in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The diagonal mouth is a particularly gruesome detail that shown through whenever Taylor's mouth was gaping open, and the ratty, rainbow-colored hair added a whole other level of freaky contrast.
Slipknot tapped into a visual aesthetic with their 1999 self-titled debut that still sends shivers down the spine today. The matching red jumpsuits screamed "stay back," and the first round of DIY masks — although not as complex as in later years — have a certain menace to them given the heaviness of the music they were making and the dangerous lifestyles of the young maniacs who were donning them. During this period, Taylor's head looked like that of a decrepit rag doll with dirty, protruding dreadlocks and creepy little eye slits. Frightening is an understatement.
Taylor's mask for the band's destructive 2001 opus, Iowa, was merely an updated version of his OG getup, but the tweaks transformed him into goddamn nightmare fuel. The dreadlocks remained, but his scarred skin was painted over white and both his eyes and mouth were smeared with a thick coat of black ink. He looked like a demon who was on his way to commit a bank robbery, or like a horrifying ghost who had come to collect souls and at any cost. It's not his most elaborate mask, and there's definitely a valid argument to be made that the 1999 version is scarier. But in our opinion, this is the coolest, most intense and most haunting mask Taylor has ever worn.