Murderdolls / Stone Sour and Elviss - Manchester Apollo - 11.7.03

In numerous interviews Slipknot have hinted that their next album could be their last. If this is the case then the two side projects, The Murderdolls and Stone Stone, which have evolved from the band could become full time commitments when Slipknot hand up their masks.

For the first time the two bands have decided to tour together for one last blast around the UK before heading back to the studio with the Knot. Also joining the fun are Elviss who sound nothing like the hip swivelling lounge lizard. If truth be told Elviss are a good old fashioned rock n roll band. The shouty vocals remind me of vintage John Lydon, but with a bit of howling and growling for good measure. The reaction though is hostile and from the moment they hit the stage to the moment they leave the band are continually booed. Believe me when I say the blood thirsty crowd in Gladiator were more forgiving than this lot. While the band are strictly gothic metal, they don't deserve this.

Corey Taylor formed Stone Sour before Slipknot were even thought of, but success eluded them so they split up. When Slipknot became huge he decided to reform his original band. Chants of Corey are drowned out by music from the movie Clockwork Orange as the band make their grand entrance. The melodic metallers launch straight into the anthemic "Get Inside", Corey Taylor is the Permanator in rise of the hairdryers and looks like a reject from those poodle haired rockers Europe from the 80s. Ever the engaging frontman his voice excels on "Monolith" and the ballad "Take A Number", but rather predictably the band play a song which is about having sex with dead people. With a band as good as Stone Sour such shock tactics are unnecessary and while the song "Rules" rocks it's necrophiliac lyrics are questionable. Much better is the new single "In Hell", "Shields" about the difficulties of being different and "Bother" where Corey appears with just an electric guitar and takes us on an emotional journey. Ending on "Inside The Cell", a song not featured on their album, Josh Rand takes centre stage and takes us to a tremendous climax.

Murderdolls, like a group of misfit trick or treaters on Halloween and have a mental asylum chic if you like. Sample T-shirt slogan is "You have the night to remain violent". The band have an unforgettable image, but the songs are weak. Wednesday brandishes a gun, screams a lot, but sounds like Beetlejuice when he attempts to sing. Their fans, who are referred to as the Black And Red Army are spellbound, I'm not. I've seen this done a lot better by Alice Cooper and to a lesser extent Marilyn Manson. It's just Slipknot without the masks with a few guitar solos thrown in and the results are a limp gothic horror freak show. "Teenage Zombie" isn't bad but "People Hate Me" is a self indulgent whinge with only the barest trace of a melody.

The negativity is reinforced on "197666" a ditty about drinking and killing people. The Murderdolls try their best to put on a good show, but it's all a bit one dimensional and cartoonish. The encore has Wednesday waving an umbrella with the F**K emblazoned on it. If there was a point to this pantomime of a performance then I failed to notice it. If you're a teenage gothic metalhead with anti-social tendencies who feels misunderstood and alienated then Murderdolls may be relevant and helpful to your pain. If on the other hand you've grown out of it you may feel like me - slightly unimpressed and their antics tiresome.

Nicholas Paul Godkin

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