American headbangers Stone Sour have returned in a big way with their sixth album, Hydograd. The new album, which serves as the follow-up to 2012-2013’s House of Gold & Bones Part 1 and Part 2, continues the trend of Stone Sour defining themselves as one of the premier American heavy metal/hard rock outfits. Forget what you thought you knew about Stone Sour.
Once thought primarily as an offshoot of front man Corey Taylor and former guitarist Jim Root’s main band, Slipknot, Hydrograd is yet another example of the limitless musical boundaries of the quintet. Chad Kroeger may feel that Stone Sour are Nickelback-lite. For anyone who would even entertain that thought, one listen of Hydrograd proves not only are Stone Sour lightyears ahead of Nickelback, but they may have just eclipsed Taylor’s “main” band. Here are 10 reasons the album is incredible, and proves Stone Sour and Corey Taylor are better than Nickelback and Chad Kroeger.
1. There is a crispness to the production of Hydrograd. The guitars are so thick. Corey Taylor is a man on a mission and a vocalist at the top of his game. Taylor seamlessly switches from guttural screams to insatiably catchy melodies without batting an eye.
2. Bassist Johnny Chow chugs in such a sweet spot in the overall mix. Track to track throughout the album, Chow’s playing is a real highlight.
3. Produced by Jay Rusten, there is a definite late-80’s metal feel. There is a pop-accessibility here in. Similar to records by Warrant and Cinderella during the Hair-Metal heyday, these guys write some very catchy metal songs. Corey Taylor almost can’t help but write huge hooks at this point.
4. Following up the critically acclaimed House of Gold & Bones with such an album that is fun was a good choice for the band. The album lacks the heavy atmosphere and lack of cohesion of some previous albums.
5. Stone Sour seemed to encounter a bit of an identity crisis in the albums between their fantastic debut and House of Gold & Bones. No such issues present here.
6. Standout tracks “Taipei Person/Allah Tea” and “Fabuless” are the type of flashy, guitar driven tracks shredders everywhere can sink their teeth into. The two-headed monster guitar attack of Josh Rand and newcomer Christian Martucci blaze a trail of six-string destruction.
7. The leads are so sharp. So fierce. The virtuosity of these two guitarists amazes more than a few times throughout Hydrograd. The guitars are let loose here.
8. The album has an overall fun vibe. You get the impression that while they take their music very seriously, they do not take themselves too seriously. The album begins with a voice-over on “YSIF”; a greeting of sorts; “Hello…you bastards.” Furthermore, the music video for “Song #3” is a good time tongue-in-cheek parody of Hair Metal bands of yesteryears.
9. If you’ve ever seen Stone Sour live, you know they are one of the most explosive, energetic bands up on the stage. Hydrograd is the closest Stone Sour have gotten to producing their live sound on an album. The energy level starts at ten and maintains that level throughout.
10. There is enough bouncing from metal to straight up rock & roll to keep listeners on the edge of their seats. True to form, Corey Taylor has delivered in the lyric department here. This album is a great option for anyone who looking to read the lyrics while listening. Taylor’s topics, word choices, phrasing and metaphors never disappoint. Not to mention his Layne Staley-esque delivery on “Thank God It’s Over.”
Corey Taylor scream, “It’s all downhill from here” on “Fabuless.” I disagree. Stone Sour have gotten to a point where they know their strengths (of which there are many). This is the first time on record they put them to perfection. In a time we are starved for good bands and better albums, the timing of this release could not be better
Unencumbered by the constant Slipknot comparisons of years past, Stone Sour are finally free to set the bar. They no longer need to give in to predetermined expectations based on their other band. Hydrograd isn’t as much a return to form for Stone Sour as it is a defining of the form. If you’re looking for crazy guitars and chaotic drumming, look no further. If you’re looking for one of the most charismatic, if not the best front men in rock and metal, Hydrograd is a must own.