REVIEW: STONE SOUR – “Hydrograd”
For the past two decades, hits like “Bother,” “Through Glass,” “Say You’ll Haunt Me” and the most recently released “Song #3” have catapulted Stone Sour to a level of mainstream infamy that was probably never fathomed by the Des Moines band. However, when it comes to identifying frontman Corey Taylor, it still seems to shock people that this is the same voice of Slipknot. This is because, over the years, despite his unique vocal style, he sets himself apart with every piece of music he releases with each band. Add to that the undeniable amount of talent that his bandmates in SS (both current and former) possess and you’ve got a recipe for a force to be reckoned with. Five studio albums into their career, they’ve continued to bring something new to the table, further experimenting with every release. ‘Hydrograd’, the soon-to-be-released sixth studio album, takes it to a new level.
The atmosphere builds as “YSIF” sets the tone for what’s to come. The first album from the band NOT to feature Jim Root on lead guitar, this album immediately feels different. A dark, foreboding tone makes sure that the listener is immediately pulled in or left behind. This track is very climactic and even feels a bit cinematic, adding to the importance of it. Root’s replacement, Christian Martucci, brings more depth to that dark tone as “Taipei Person / Allah Tea” comes in. In the verses of this track, the drums are reminiscent of something you may hear in the jungle. Taylor’s vocals remain fairly aggressive until the chorus, where there are a lot of layers on one another that give it a strange, yet refreshing sound.
The title track, “Hydrograd” remains one of my favorites. Martucci’s solo in this track, alone, make it worth a listen and really show his worth as a musician. Take into account the way that the track progresses, the guitar tones, the way the vocals are layered in the chorus, Taylor’s “piss and vinegar” vocal delivery and the odd things that are done to make it feel (almost) otherworldly. I don’t know if it’s just me but when the music stops and he proclaims “I’m not better than you, I’m just better”… I find myself incredibly pumped up.
Of course, the softer side is still present on tracks like “Song #3” and “St. Marie.” The former presents itself as an active rock love song while “St. Marie” stands more like a ballad, with a lot more of an emotional edge to it. I don’t know if southern-style indie rock is considered a real thing but, if it were, I feel that the verses on “Rose Red, Violent Blue (This Song is Dumb and So Am I)” would fit that category. This is where Taylor finds himself reflecting on his age and how things have changed in the history of his life.
“Whiplash Pants” sticks out like a sore thumb to me because, though I can’t tell who, this track is very clearly aimed at someone who spited Taylor or the band, in some way. This is a very venom-filled track that lends itself to a heavier side that is, very nearly, Slipknot-esque. Fast-paced, angry and aggressive, this track will appeal to anyone who enjoys the more battle-ready side of Stone Sour.
In terms of the band’s overall catalog, Hydrograd finds itself on another plane of existence. The addition of Martucci seems to have lit a creative fire under the band, giving them a new-found energy and hunger to push the envelope. June 30th, Hydrograd, will be released via Roadrunner Records and you would be doing a disservice to yourself if you didn’t pick it up.