Love him or hate him for his outspoken ways, Corey Taylor knows how to front a successful band having kicked off with Slipknot and then side-stepped to Stone Sour, who are touring arenas in the UK towards the end of the year. Out last week (sorry – blame the internet for losing our review copy), Hydrograd is the band’s sixth studio album and comes out fully four years after 2013’s House of Gold & Bones Part 2.
Given that Stone Sour created one of my favourite hard rock albums in Come What(ever) May, have they continued to produce quality or should Corey focus on silly masks and nu-metal? Well, on the evidence of the videos released before the album, this was looking to be a strong collection of songs. “Fabuless”, “Song #3” and “Mercy” were all dropped via YouTube, in the run-up to the end of last month’s D-day and generally got good feedback.
I’m glad to say they didn’t just cherry-pick the three decent tracks and leave the rest of album to become filler. What the band did do was to pick a handful of songs that showcased the variety on offer. Stone Sour have always been a band with its fingers in a collection of pies – could “Through Glass” be any different from “The Bitter End”, for instance? Well, we already knew that Hydrograd would display a similar spread with “Song #3″‘s power balladry being pounded by “Fabuless”‘s angrier tones and stolen lyrics.
The other eight tracks (twelve if you have the special edition) are equally as wide-ranging and, more importantly, maintain the quality set way back in 2003 with the first album. From silly opener/intro “Ysif” to the punky/funky “Rose Red Violent Blue” and the heart-wrenching “St. Marie” this is an album that jumps from genre to genre, style to style too often for the listener to get bored.
Trying to choose a favourite track from the eleven on offer is like trying to pick a favourite out of the pic’n’mix when your sweet tooth is as decayed as mine. I love the rockier parts of “Rose Red…”. “Knievel Has Landed” is a masterful blend of driving bass, heavy tones and melodic choruses. “Song #3” just embodies Stone Sour’s ability to create a catchy riff that gets stuck in your head, but you don’t care because it’s so good.
It’s easier to pick out the tracks I don’t like. Well. Track. And by “don’t like” I mean “don’t like as much as the others”. For some reason “Thank God It’s Over” just doesn’t quite work for me. It starts well enough, but just seems to be a bit ploddy once it gets going. It’s not bad… just not that great given the quality of its company. Watch it turn out to be the next single or something…
So the result of our delayed review? Well, if you were hanging on, undecided then hopefully we’ve encouraged you to at least give it a listen – which you can do (legally) on the band’s YouTube channel. Just don’t listen to a track or two then make a decision. There’s so much difference between the songs that you just have to listen to them all before you make a decision. Though I’m fairly sure you’ll decide you like it!
Note that the version of “Song #3” below isn’t on the album, but hey – it just proves my point about the band having no fear in expanding their boundaries.
Header photo by Travis Shinn