Fresh

Stone Sour-Hydrograd


It’s been all too easy recently to denounce both Stone Sour and Slipknot as “The Corey Taylor” show over the past few years. Firstly, there’s the way in which the majority of Stone sour’s fanbase is still reeling from the fact that Jim Root was “unfairly” fired from the band.  Then there’s the  seemingly neverending tirade of memes and comments on social media mindlessly questioning what Corey Taylor thinks of the most unimportant subjects. And lastly, gracing the front page of Metal Hammer’s latest issue is a seemingly presidential Corey Taylor, suited and booted with his sidekick/underdog/secretary/longtime bandmate Josh Rand, which of course sparked the utmost controversy from the British publication’s many social media followers. But does any of this really matter in relation to the release of latest Stone Sour effort Hydrograd? It really depends on whether or not Corey Taylor grinds your gears.

 

Hydrograd isn’t a statement of anything from anybody, which immediately makes it a different kettle of fish compared to the previous conceptual double album House of Gold and Bones. Instead, we have here a somewhat thrilling return to the mainstream-flourishing alt-metal sound for which Stone Sour have become well-known since their foundation. It takes a while to get into Hydrograd however, as its first proper three songs are surprisingly inconsistent and patchy throughout. “Taipei Person/Allah Tea” has a brilliant play on words for its title, but the music reflects nowhere near as much creativity. It’s when Taylor attempts that shoddy higher-pitched vocal tone in the chorus that you begin to question his ability to deliver. The musicianship as well seems to have a sheer lack of originality in its wake, and despite some well-founded rhythm changes, the song simply doesn’t get you going. The same problems arise in “Knievel has Landed” and “Hydrograd”, the latter of which serves as an unsuitably average performance to say it is a title track. The former merely continues the tried-and-tested tricks of its predecessor, but with a lower interest in accessibility.

 

The album really starts to deliver when “Song #3” starts. Despite its title being rather confused (its placement is actually fifth on the record), the musicianship is ultimately solid and consistent, quashing any belief that Stone Sour may have become a parody of their former selves. With great strength and power, the guitar-driven menace of this song and many others towards the end of Hydrograd, really comes of age, and the band’s well-known penchant for a successful hit at mainstream success is no less obvious here than elsewhere in the band’s back catalogue. Although much of Hydrograd retains a sensible, simplistic musical formula, there is versatility to be found. “Fabuless” and “Somebody Stole My Eyes” both have this crunching rhythm from the get-go, particularly showing off the prominent bass work when it’s needed to be heard. “Whiplash Pants” attempts to recover nu-metal at its peak in the early 00s as Taylor remembers how menacing he sounded in Slipknot all those years ago. “Rose Red Violent Blue” is the closest Stone Sour have come to a pop rock sound, though that’s not all it has in its grasp. The very same song features some of the band’s heaviest riffs too, and it’s with this bold difference in songwriting that Stone Sour have delivered on all fronts.

 

Hydrograd may have taken a few steps away from the epic and conceptual boldness of House of Gold and Bones, but musically speaking, this is the very same band that released Come (what)ever May over a decade ago. Maybe its members have become more experienced and sensible with age, but it doesn’t stop the fact that they really enjoying hitting mainstream success with little effort. What it certainly doesn’t prove is that Corey Taylor is calling the shots, as this certainly sounds like more of a group effort than that of an individual. Perhaps it will give more fuel to the haters’ fires, but it’s highly unlikely that Taylor and the rest of Stone Sour will give a damn.

 

3.4/5

Released: 30th June 2017

 

  1. YSIF
  2. Taipei Person/Allah Tea
  3. Knievel has Landed
  4. Hydrograd
  5. Song #3
  6. Fabuless
  7. Witness Trees
  8. Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song is Dumb and So Am I)
  9. Thank God it’s Over
  10. St. Marie
  11. Mercy
  12. Whiplash Pants
  13. Friday Knights
  14. Somebody Stole My Eyes
  15. When the Fever Broke

Bandpage: https://www.facebook.com/stonesour

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