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The 100 greatest albums of the 21st century: The Winner!

The countdown finally comes to a close! We reveal the winning entry of the 100 greatest albums of the 21st century poll, as voted for by Hammer, bands, readers and fans...

1) SLIPKNOT - IOWA (2001)

It had to be. As we officially crown Iowa the greatest album of the 21st century, we take a look behind the scenes at a record that redefined heavy – and almost tore Slipknot apart

It begins with anguished screams and a mounting sense of impending horror. And then it explodes, with vicious death metal blastbeats and a riff that sounds like a violent threat hurled from the depths of Hell. No, Slipknot’s second album was not just a sturdy follow-up to their classic eponymous debut: Iowa was a declaration of all-out war. Fifteen years on from its release, it towers over the 21st-century metal world as a unique and truly monstrous creation by a band that were taking on the world and proving that outright musical brutality was just what we all needed.

“I have a tendency to avoid everything I record immediately because I’m looking forward,” Corey Taylor tells Hammer today. “Iowa is one of those albums I didn’t want to listen to until six years ago, maybe. But when I really started listening to it, it became this revelation that it was ridiculously heavy. We pulled off exactly what we wanted to do, which was to destroy the concept of the follow-up curse.”

“We started hearing about the ‘difficult sophomore record’ and how the sophomore is the curse,” Clown explained to Hammer in 2011. “But we were like, ‘Curse or not, we’re gonna do what the fuck we want!’ It doesn’t matter what anyone else needs. We’re gonna do what we want to do and no one’s gonna tell us any different.”

Recorded at Sound City and Sound Image Studios in Los Angeles, with Ross Robinson once again manning the desk and attempting to channel the Des Moines nontet’s intrinsic chaos, Iowa was pieced together as Slipknot came to terms with their rapid and startling rise to prominence. Tension between bandmembers was at an all-time high, not least because they had just spent 18 months together on the road with little time to adjust to their newfound status as metal messiahs and international rock stars. But rather than crumble under the weight of expectation, Slipknot grabbed the opportunity to make their presence felt again, and this time there would be no mercy and absolutely no fucks given.

“We’d just flown home [from being on tour] and Paul [Gray, late Slipknot bassist] and I took a day off and then went directly to his brother’s place, and we set up our gear and started writing,” now former drummer Joey Jordison recalled upon Iowa’s 10th anniversary in 2011. “We weren’t being selfish, it was just, ‘Let’s get another record done quick!’ We didn’t know how heavy it was gonna be. We knew in our souls that it was gonna be heavy as fuck, and we kinda wanted to piss people off and get that shit out of the way. That’s why the record’s named Iowa. It’s just who we are. We didn’t know how to deal with the fame at the time, so we decided to make it the darkest goddamn record we could do and just be ourselves.”

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