The Saddest Metal Song of All Time?
By 2008, Slipknot was known for it’s shocking scary look, it’s dark heavy sound, and basically your mother’s worst nightmare manifested into a nine-piece metal band. They were set to release another single — one surely to be full of distorted guitars, blazing drums, screaming vocals, and beer keg hits. Instead came a deeply introspective track, a slow and brooding song featuring acoustic guitar, smooth vocals, and hauntingly beautiful lyrics. It would end up becoming one of Slipknot's most popular songs, Corey Taylor’s heartbreak ballad, "Snuff."
As Slipknot prepared to create their fourth album, All Hope Is Gone, Corey was in the middle of a divorce and was really struggling with heartbreak. Normally he wouldn’t write lyrics until the rest of the guys had come up with the music, but he felt compelled to express himself as he was engulfed in this new depression.
"It was one of the heaviest disappointments, one of the heaviest heartbreaks I had ever felt," Taylor said in 2021. "It was one of those things where you knew you weren’t supposed to be together. There was just something there that felt so good and when it was ripped away from you, it just felt like there was a hole in your chest, and knowing that and having to discard those feelings was tough."
"Snuff" was Corey’s unique way of expressing this pain and anger he felt inside of him. As opposed to most of Slipknot’s previous work, you hear a more morose and introspective Corey, instead of just plain angry. He’s blaming himself for the failed marriage and asking her to leave him quickly to rip off the Band-Aid of the breakup.
So, if you love me, let me go
And run away before I know
My heart is just too dark to care
I can't destroy what isn't there
The band sure didn’t pull any artistic punches with the music video, either. Co-directed by the band’s percussionist, Shawn ‘Clown’ Crahan, the video is more of a short-film. It features Corey stalking a woman in an apartment. You don’t see her face until the end, where it’s revealed the woman is just a cross-dressed Corey. It’s as if the woman is a figment of Corey’s imagination, as he recalls the memories in their apartment together.
"The video kind of culminates in what the behavioral profiling calls a 'stressor,'" Taylor explained in a behind-the-scenes video. "The man is so lost without that other person that he becomes that other person. The personality psychologically twists itself to save itself."
Although it divided some fans at the time, over the years "Snuff" has become a fan favorite, but not necessarily for the meaning Corey initially intended. "Snuff" was Slipknot's last single before the death of bassist Paul Gray. Corey would go on to play the song at a few select shows, dedicating the song to Paul’s memory.
In hindsight, maybe a part of the longevity of "Snuff" is if you look at it through the lens of Paul Gray’s death. The lyrics could be interpreted as Corey expressing his anger over Paul’s self destructing behavior and leaving Corey with all this grief. But over the years, Corey has become grateful that "Snuff" now reminds him of the great relationship he and Paul had.
"It no longer reminds me of the hell that I’d gone through, it reminds me of Paul," Taylor expressed. "That to me is one of my favorite gifts that Paul ever gave me as a musician. That one really is pretty special."
Watch the full story of "Snuff" in the video below.