With Nickelback‘s frontman Chad Kreoger recently going on record to say Stone Sour sound like “Nickelback lite”, it seems that there couldn’t be a better time for a new Stone Sour record to be released. The new album, Hydrograd is the band’s sixth studio album and marks the follow up to the House of Gold & Bones concept albums that were released four years ago.
With singer Corey Taylor being busy with Slipknot during those four years and the departure of lead guitarist Jim Root, the future for Stone Sour was quiet and uncertain for fans. However, it was inevitable that the band weren’t going to stay away and with the introduction of Christian Martucci on lead guitar Stone Sour have returned with a more straight-up rock and roll style.
The album opens up with the track YSIF, which acts much like Audio Secrecy track does on that album. It’s purely instrumental but builds anticipation and feeds into the second track, Taipei Person/Allah Tea. Instantly, there is a sense that the album is less melodic than their previous work and it seems more than likely that’s down to the departure of Jim Root. With that being said, Stone Sour now possess an added punch to their sound and to be honest it’s exciting. Taipei Person/Allah Tea contains everything you would expect from a track this early on the album; fast verses and bridges, a catchy chorus and a solo that continues the drive. The third song however is arguably one of the best songs the band has ever produced. Titled, Knievel Has Landed, the song has pulsating guitars that instantly make you want to experience the song live. Despite Corey Taylor doing a stellar job vocally, it’s the new boy Christian Martucci that makes the sing what it is. Providing backing vocals in the chorus that seem to be the perfect pitch and a solid guitar solo, Root’s departure won’t be dwelled on any longer.
The eponymous track Hydrograd has a great electronic sound driving the bridges, but apart from that, it gets overshadowed on a packed album. Song #3 (ironic as it’s the fifth track) is hunting yet beautiful. It’s one of those Corey Taylor songs that is heavy with meaning and voice as opposed to sound. Fabuless picks things back up again and is another heavy anthem. Taylor has that guttural growl that sees him chant “Been a long time since I’ve rock and rolled // it’s only rock and roll but I like it, like it” and that perfectly sums up the feeling expressed from that song. It’s worth mentioning that Martucci’s guitar solo in Fabuless is one of the coolest solos I’ve heard recently. The Witness Trees is another slower song but is again one of the best songs on the album. Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song is Dumb & So Am I) has an almost charming melody that pulses the verses until the chorus kicks it into another gear. Thank God It’s Over, St. Marie and Mercy all add body to the album in their own ways.
Now, the final four tracks of Hydrograd arguably provides one of the best endings to a hard rock album in the past decade. Whiplash Pants’ ending is so heavy it actually came as a surprise on first listen and will cause many Slipknot fans to grin (but I won’t spoil why). Friday Knights has a chorus that forces you to almost boogie… I’m serious. Somebody Stole My Eyes is just like Knievel Has Landed in the sense that it’s one of the best Stone Sour songs ever. With straight-fire double bass from Roy Mayorga, guitars that hook you and lyrics that fit perfectly; Somebody Stole My Eyes will be a fan favourite for sure. Finally, the album ends with When The Fever Broke. A dream-like song with a steady pace and electronic elements cause a distinct vibe. Lyrically, it’s sad and heavy which seems an odd way to end things, but you can’t help but want to start from the very beginning when it’s all rounded up.
Stone Sour‘s sixth album, Hydrograd was released on June 30th and provides a statement upon return for the band. The new direction musically that the band have taken may have been risky, but it overwhelmingly paid off. It’s in no way perfect, with St. Marie struggling to fit in and the song Hydrograd lacking in comparison to others. Regardless, there are plenty of songs on Hydrograd that more than make up for that and cause this to be one of Stone Sour‘s finest albums.
It’s easy to see why Chad Kreoger never made it as a wise man.
A more rock and roll driven sound that pays off.