By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
When heavy metal fans think of Corey Taylor, they think deranged masks, harsh vocals, and frontman to Slipknot. When I think of him, I see one of the most critically acclaimed voices in not just heavy metal, but modern rock today. Not only can he scream to the top of his lungs, but he can hit that mid tempo range and give us something gorgeous. That is where his second band, Stone Sour, comes into play. A band that has been around before joining Slipknot, they have the ability to unite metal music with punk rock and classic rock. It has been 5 years since the release of their double concept album, House of Gold & Bones. Well, have no fear, Stone Sour are here to show some new tricks with their latest effort, Hydrograd. After listening to it, I have to say that this album is their most experimental endeavor they ever undertook. Let the mayhem begin!
Right away, after listening to “Taipei Person/Allah Tea,” I knew I was in for something different from this group. It had the elements of classic metal, rock ‘n’ roll, and punk rock rolled into one. However, that was only the beginning. From “Knievel Has Landed” to “Whiplash Pants,” Stone Sour ventures into some new uncharted territories. Taylor not only secures it with his signature snarl, but explores the ranges of his vocals, in order to find out how far he can go. Hydrograd marks the first album to feature lead guitarist, Christian Martucci, who took over in 2015 after the departure of Jim Root. Martucci is masterful at his guitar playing, razor sharp and swift with each solo he strums from his chords. Bring that together with Josh Rand’s metrical performance on rhythm guitar, they shred their instruments with such accuracy.
“Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I)” is so brazen of Stone Sour, cranking out a song that sounds very old school while still maintaining its heaviness. This is my favorite song with drummer Roy Mayorga, he brings such a versatility to this song, as well as every other song. This is also bassist Johnny Chow’s first record since joining back in 2013, and he does an impressive job wailing on the bass. Their hit singles, “Fabuless” and “Song #3,” have been tearing up the rock charts in recent months. The biggest surprise was “St. Marie” because it’s use of acoustic guitar and its inspiration from folk rock and country. I was unsure if it would fit in with the rest of the songs, but I see it as an important song because it shows Taylor’s vulnerable side. It very is very gentle and stripped down. It is a unique song for a unique album.
There were many ups and downs about Hydrograd, but I would I have to say they are very minor ones. Stone Sour has constructed a well-crafted rock record. They journeyed into the unknown and returned with material that will be treasured by many fans. I also had the opportunity to catch at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif., and listen to them play the new stuff live. The audience’s reaction was ecstatic. It has to be their most creative and engaging album in their 25 years of existence. A superb album from a superb band. To Stone Sour, I salute you. Horns up!!! 9.0/10