SLIPKNOT Members Jim Root And Mick Thomson Deserve More Recognition As Guitar Icons
Many SLIPKNOT fans believe that the band just simply wouldn’t be the same without guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thomson. Afterall, the two mask-laden, axe-wielding shredders have been with the Iowa band since it’s eponymous debut album and have contributed their creativity and musical abilities to some of the Des Moines, Iowa band’s most well-known songs. While both guitarists may come from very different backgrounds, their contributions to the group are undeniable. In this article, we will take a closer look at SLIPKNOT guitarists Jim Root and Mick Thomson and discuss why they deserve more recognition within the metal community.
Jim Root (#4)
Jim Root was born on October 2, 1971 in Las Vegas, Nevada. He began playing guitar at a young age after being influenced by his uncle’s record collection, which included artists such as LED ZEPPELIN and BLACK SABBATH. “I was listening to Mötley Crüe, Twisted Sister, Ratt, stuff like that; guitar-oriented music at that time,” Root revealed in an interview with radio station WMMR. “I think I was 13 or 14 years old. And then, after school, I remember going to this guy Jason – another guitar player up where I grew up – and he was like, ‘You need to check this out.’
“He played ‘Fight Fire With Fire‘ (from METALLICA‘s “Ride The Lightning” album) and I was like, ‘What is this? This is next level. I’ve never heard a drummer play like that, I’ve never heard nothing like that…’ I mean, I appreciate Ratt and those other bands for what they are, but at that time your mind’s a sponge and you just want to be as extreme as you can with the guitar. I needed to learn how to pick that fast, needed to learn downstrokes, and that really helped form me as a guitar player.
He continued: “Killing Is My Business… And Business Is Good” (MEGADETH album), all that stuff, once you found that record… back in those days, there wasn’t, like, streaming, wasn’t word-to-mouth social media, it was: you go to a record store and you go for the cover that looks cool and you hope the band’s cool and you listen to it. Then you study the artwork, you read the lyrics and all that. So, after “Ride the Lightning“, it was all bets are off. I was looking for bands like Onslaught, Overkill, Anthrax, Megadeth, you name it.”
After high school, Jim joined the Iowa based band ATOMIC OPERA (which is not to be confused with another hard rock group out of Houston called “ATOMIC OPERA” as well). After that outfit split, Root went on to play with the group DEADFRONT as well as joining STONE SOUR in 1995, which featured future SLIPKNOT vocalist Corey Taylor. Amidst his burgeoning musical career, Jim also took on various jobs including working as a screen printer and being a busboy at different restaurants until joining SLIPKNOT, replacing original guitarist Josh Brainard, in January of 1999. It was singer Corey Taylor who suggested Root for the gig, having worked with him in STONE SOUR.
Upon Joining SLIPKNOT
Although filling in the vacant spot of rhythm guitarist in 1999, Root is considered to be one of SLIPKNOT‘s primary songwriters and has even written lead guitar solo’s for the band’s later albums “All Hope is Gone“, “.5: The Gray Chapter“, “We are Not Your Kind” and “The End, So Far“. He is also known for his unique playing style, which often uses drop tunings to create a heavier sound. Jim Root knows how to deliver and own a shredding guitar solo. In this writer’s opinion he is without a doubt one of the best metal guitarists out there.
Jim Root’s Mask
Initially, Jim Root inherited his first mask from his predecessor in SLIPKNOT, guitarist Josh Brainard. The black bondage mask turned out to be too uncomfortable to perform live in so Root adopted a jester’s mask believing it better reflected his personality.
Then we have Mick Thomson.
Mick Thomson (#7)
Mick Thomson was born on November 3, 1973 in Des Moines, Iowa. The young Mick began playing guitar at around the age of 11 and soon developed a rabid fascination with the heavy metal subgenre of death metal, cranking such notable bands as MORBID ANGEL and DEICIDE in his bedroom, while still declaring such classic rock groups as THE BEATLES and THE ROLLING STONES as major influences.
Thomson played in a number of local bands in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, including with the group BODY PIT which also featured original SLIPKNOT members Anders Colsefni (vocals), Donnie Steele (guitar) and Paul Gray (bass).
In the summer of 1996, Thomson joined SLIPKNOT, replacing Craig Jones on guitar after he became the band’s full-time sampler. Thomson appeared on the group’s 1999 self-titled debut album, yet has always looked back on the experience as being unpleasant.
Mick recalled the experience in a talk with Revolver magazine saying that “It was a nightmarish hell to do that fucking record”, which mostly stemmed from the group’s lack of funding, poor quality of food, and fellow members’ bad habits. He has co-written many of the band’s songs with fellow guitarist Jim Root, and is also responsible for creating the signature riff in the classic track “Spit It Out” among countless other notable tracks.
Mick Thomson’s “Hockey” ‘Mask
Initially, Thomson sported a hockey mask while performing live, which would remain pretty much the same throughout his career, with only a few small changes being made throughout each of the group’s albums. Thomson would claim the lack of evolvement from his mask was because he “pretty much nailed it … for being able to get across how I am”. Mick also decided to adopt the moniker of #7 within the band, claiming that it was his “lucky number”.
Mick’s Playing Style
Mick is greatly known for his aggressive playing style, which often uses power chords and palm-muting to create a heavier sound.
The Masked Guitar Duo
You can’t deny that SLIPKNOT is one of the most successful metal bands of all time, and a massive deal of that success is due to the unique sound Jim Root and Mick Thomson create. A huge part of the band’s signature sound comes from the dual guitar attack of Jim Root and Mick Thomson.
Unfortunately, because lead singer Corey Taylor gets a lot of the attention from fans and media, Jim and Mick don’t always get the full recognition they deserve. (Not to take anything away from Corey, who is hands down one of the most talented vocalists out there today. In all seriousness the guy is just incredible.)
Individual Playing Styles
Both Jim Root and Mick Thomson are extremely talented guitarists with very different playing styles that come together to create the band’s pulverizing delivery. Root is more of a traditional metal guitarist, while Thomson incorporates more hardcore punk influences into his playing. This combination results in a sound that is aggressive and heavy, but also has a lot of melody and catchy hooks.
The Iowa collective of masked maniacs simply wouldn’t be the same without the contributions of both Root and Thomson, and in this writer’s opinion they both deserve to be recognized as two of the best heavy metal guitarists of the modern era.
Two Of The Best Metal Guitarists Of The Modern Day
SLIPKNOT is just one of those bands that everyone seems to love. They’ve got a great mix of heavy metal with just enough melody to keep things interesting, and their live shows are always completely insane. But lest we forget that crushing dual guitar attack courtesy of Jim and Mick that makes up a tremendous amount of what the band has become. An absolute juggernaut within the realms of heavy music.
Jim and Mick are easily two of the best metal guitarists out there with a unique way they both approach guitar playing. Their guitar solos are monumental. A pair that should be included in the echelons of the best metal guitarists out there along with such names as James Hetfield and Kirk Hammet from METALLICA or Adam Dutkiewicz and Joel Stroetzel from KILLSWITCH ENGAGE.
Root is a pulverizing power while Thomson tends to approach guitar playing and guitar solos with a relentless attack that simply demolishes those in attendance at the group’s live shows. A non traditional solo is a way of life for these individuals. And it is a dual guitar attack that has become legendary within the realms of heavy music.