Why the long album lag for masked metallers Slipknot? Chris Schulz finds out.

Corey Taylor is usually seen masked, doubled over and screaming into a microphone while his gory band of circus freaks smash up the stage behind him.

But today the Slipknot frontman is doing something a little less intense: he's cleaning his house.

"I'm just doing all the domestic stuff before the 'rock star' stuff kicks in," Taylor laughs down the phone. "I'm ready for it."

He'd better be, because things are about to get a whole lot more hectic for his crew of masked Iowa metallers.

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It's been six years since Slipknot's last album, 2008's All Hope is Gone, and there's just one reason for that delay: the death of bassist Paul Gray from an accidental overdose in 2010.

"We gave ourselves a little time to grieve," says Taylor. "When you haven't been in that situation, you never know how it's going to affect you.

"We're very much a business-as-usual type of band, but we couldn't fight the depression, the grief. It kept clinging to us."

On top of that, they lost a second member, drummer Joey Jordison, at the end of 2013 after an acrimonious spat that resulted in legal disputes. That topic is out of bounds for today's interview.

That turmoil has resulted in .5: The Gray Chapter, a typically brutal and bruising Slipknot album "inspired" by Gray's death and led by the take-no-prisoners attitude of first single The Devil In I.

Critics have hailed it as a return-to-form, and Taylor agrees.

"The album is about the last four years and what we've gone through, basically starting the day that we lost Paul and having the shit knocked out of us, and just what it felt like dealing with that kind of loss," he explains.

"I'm just really proud of this band and the fact that we went into the studio under crazy circumstances. We did it together and it surpassed my expectations."

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Death hangs over many of the songs on The Gray Chapter. During AOV, Taylor growls, "I think I'm going to kill myself," while The Devil in I opens with: "Undo these chains, my friend, I'll show you the rage I've hidden."

Taylor admits many of the songs are about Gray, and the impact his loss had on the band.

"A lot of it is very introspective. Skeptic is very much about Paul, his spirit, his love for music and for the band, and what a wonderful, crazy individual he was," he says.

"Paul would want us to carry on and we're going to do everything we can to ensure this is the biggest and best metal band on the planet. We're going to eat the competition."

What: Slipknot
New album: .5: The Gray Chapter, out now
Also: Slipknot (1999); Iowa (2001); Vol. 3: (The Subliminal Verses) (2004); All Hope Is Gone (2008)

- TimeOut