Have a listen to 'Whiplash Pants'
Stone Sour – Hydrograd
Release Date: 30th June 2017
It has been four years since Des Moines act Stone Sour released undoubtedly their most ambitious work to date. Both parts of ‘House of Gold & Bones’ divided opinions, from those that loved it and thought it was incredibly groundbreaking for Stone Sour, to those that found it was “too soft” or “too radio friendly” for their liking and a far cry from the self-titled release that hooked them in originally. In the time between now and the release of ‘House of Gold & Bones part 2’, founding guitarist Jim Root left the band and also accused the band of abandoning their deep-rooted musical ways in favour of “radio play and money”. Christian Martucci has since been brought in to fulfill those duties and showcase his talents.
Oddly enough since Root‘s claims of abandoning the older heaviness, it seems that Martucci has helped them rediscover the meatiest of riffs once again. ‘Fabuless’ was our first taste of the crunchy hooks that would flood this album. It contains that darker sense of the Stone Sour of old, and it seems that lead man Corey Taylor is feeling as ferocious as he was in the early 2000s, there feels like a rediscovered intensity within the frontman. With that being said, the catchiness remains, balancing the tones out to create the perfect anthem for the album. ‘Song #3’ however is a strong reminder of Stone Sour‘s ability to create a pure radio friendly “hit”. The uplifting chorus alone should cement the track onto rock radio stations and programs for years to come.
‘YSIF’ kicks the album off with impactful and dramatic riffs and rolling drum pattern, leading right into ‘Taipei Person – Allah Tea’, the bar setting track that drives of the same anthemic feel of infectiously hooking singalong choruses sandwiched between plenty of distorted rhythms and Taylor‘s distinctive shouts. Martucci shows off his technical prowess early on with some attention grabbing fiddly guitar solos and captivating melodies. ‘Knievel Has Landed’ follows up by opening with possibly the heaviest Stone Sour grooves ever, they are almost Lamb of God like. It’s another track that packs a real punch, while combining the dingier vibes with more potently baiting choruses laced with “WOAH OH” chants.
Title track, ‘Hydrograd’ is by far the most imaginative track on the release. Sleazy, yet down-tempo riffs compared to the previous couple of tracks. This is Martucci‘s finest work on the album with his mind-melting solo. There is a Rob Zombie style of eerieness to the track with the lingering whines in the background. Taylor’s “piss and vinegar” approach to the song as he sing the words “I’m not better than you, I’m just better” through gritted teeth adds to the dark angst within the track.
The mellow nature of Stone Sour doesn’t truely kick in until ‘The Witness Trees’, and even then it’s not overly done. For the most part, Taylor sticks to clean singing, though there is the continuing trend of gloomy tones surrounding the track. This continues into ‘Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I)’, which starts off as a soft rock number, thought it pushes towards a harder-hitting piece as the track progresses. ‘St Marie’ stands out as the most relaxed song on the release, an acoustic number that is rather inspiring more than a sombre affair like ‘Bother’ was.
‘Whiplash Pants’ comes in with the kind of full-on Slipknot ferocity that was surprising to hear on a Stone Sour album. The monstrous grooves and a pissed off sounding Taylor, it honestly feels like a track left out of ‘The Grey Chapter’, just stripped from the added percussion and sampled sound effects. Even with the softer chorus, it’s just reminds me of ‘AOV’. ‘Somebody Stole My Eyes’ takes a similar aggressive, up-tempo approach in the verses. Riding the line between punk and metal.
There are comments that ‘Hydrograd’ is a backwards step for Stone Sour and that the album is one dimensional, far from it, it’s just appealing to more people by appeasing the older fans that prefer the heavier material while still staying strongly within reach of mainstream rock and metal. As weird as it feels to say, Jim Root isn’t missed on this album, Martucci does a grand job in filling his rather big boots and perhaps does a grander job. At times this album reaches a level of aggression that even the debut album didn’t meet. The formula of switching from heavy verse to soft or catchy chorus becomes a little repetetive, but thats the only true negativity I have about the album. Taylor stated that “Our only real idea was to make a kick-ass rock and roll album,”. I wouldn’t consider this a rock and roll album in the traditional sense, but it surely does the job in making you want to rock out.
Check out the video for ‘Fabuless’