Hi folks. Today is June 30, 2017 and the release of a new album, by a band Who (in my opinion), is rather underrated. The band is Stone Sour and they are fronted by Corey Taylor, who also sings for the band Slipknot. The album is called Hydrograd and is there sixth studio album overall, along with two Extended play’s, an iTunes only live album and a non-album single or two. Before talking about the new album, let’s talk about the band and how it’s evolved from its initial inception to today.
First of all, let’s ask the question which came first? Slipknot or Stone Sour? The answer is Stone Sour, Who first formed in 1992 and went on its initial hiatus in 1997. This is because singer Corey Taylor joined Slipknot, with guitarist Jim Root to follow in a year or so. Slipknot released their self-titled debut album in 1999 and Iowa in 2001 on Roadrunner records. Then, they went on hiatus. While Slipknot was on their first hiatus Corey and Jim resurrected Stone Sour and released it’s self titled debut album in August 2002, with the big single being Bother (Also on Roadrunner records). This song first appeared under Kory Taylor’s name on the soundtrack to the movie Spiderman earlier that year. Then of course, the song was under the band name Stone sour and as I mentioned earlier, it became a big rock radio hit. Even as a fan of Slipknot I don’t mind the song at all because it is good to hear Kory actually singing, as opposed to just singing screaming most of the time, with clean vocals as ear candy. This band and the album show a different side to Kory, both as a vocalist and as a songwriter. With Slipknot the songs are more rooted in extreme metal, while Stone sour is more hard rock and dare I say, alternative rock. Although, I think of them more as the hard rock and heavy metal band because that’s mainly where their influences lie and I will explain that later on, when I get to talking about the two EP’s with cover songs on them.
As for the rest of the debut album, it’s good for a first album and there are stand out tracks for me. Obviously, I like Bother but the songs: Blotter, Get Inside, Take A Number, Blue Study and the spoken word track Omega are highlights of the album for me. I like the fact that the album is so diverse in that there are songs which have hints of Slipknot but, there are songs would show that Kory can actually sing and can write a decent hit song. Even Omega was a refreshing surprise in that this is a spoken word track. Both Kory and myself admire such people as Henry Rollins and during a later interview, he mentioned both him and Ani DiFranco as an influence in this track. It sure is a far cry from Slipknot! Right?
During the albums touring cycle The band made a stop in Toronto, where I met Corey at a radio station and I’ve mentioned this in a past post. All I will say is that he was very nice and we had coffee together. As for the show, it was great and the album was played in its entirety, along with a non-album track called Rules Of Evidence. This track would later show up on a special addition of the album, along with a compilation of artists on Roadrunner records.
After the tour ended both Kory and Jim went back to Slipknot to record the next album Vol. 3: The Subliminal Versus and went on tour until late 2005. Then in early 2006, Stone Sour regrouped and besides a change of drummers, they recorded the second album come What Ever May. As for the drummer change, The bands original drummer Joel Ekman left the band in the early part of the recording sessions and was replaced by Roy Mayorga, Who previously played with label mates Soul Fly, whom Corey had guested on a track of their’s in 2000 on the album Primitive. With the new drummer, they recorded the second album and it was a step up from the debut album in many ways. The songs were stronger and the album was more well-rounded, with even more twists and turns. For example: the singles: Through Glass, Sillyworld, Made Of Scars, 30/30-150 and Zzyzx Rd are all different from one another in both musical style and tempo. The track Zzyzx Rd is an emotional ballad written on piano and the track 30/30-150 is more along the lines of the heavy side of Stone Sour. The album was a real success and the tracks Through Glass and Sillyworld had a lot of airplay on rock radio, when they were released as singles. They also went on the Family Values tour with Korn as well as doing their own Canadian tour in early 2007.
After the touring cycle for this album ended they went on hiatus to make way for Slipknot, to record what became their first number one album All Hope Is Gone in 2008. In late 2009 Stone Sour got back together and put together the next album Audio Secrecy, which came out just after Labor Day 2010. To me, this would be the quintessential Stone Sour album because this is where everything came together musically and with the Alvin sequencing. The single Say You’ll Haunt Me actually rocks but has a bit of a pop sheen to it. This song certainly is the closest thing to a hit single that they released and it should’ve been bigger than it was, as well as the second single Hesitate. The trouble with that song is that it was edited and so was Say You’ll Haunt Me but, The former song did better on radio over here in North America. Unfortunately, the album didn’t do as well as it should have (in my opinion) and some people think that they stumbled. However, I don’t think so because they actually became more focused on this album, in that the songs were still diverse but there was more of a cohesion to The sequencing. The album is more consistent but it still retains somewhat of a range to it. For example: the tracks Hesitate, Miracles and Imperfect are three of the slower songs on the album but they all have a bit of an edge to them, with Imperfect being the only acoustic track not to feature drums besides the title track, which features piano.
During this albums touring cycle, things begin to become weird. At one point Roy had a stroke and thankfully, he made a full recovery. The spot was filled by such drummers as Mike Portnoy, who played drums for Avenged sevenfold and Dream Theater. Original bass player Shawn Economaki missed some shows and at the end of the touring cycle, he left the band but on good terms.
In 2012 the band went back into the studio with producer David Bottrill, who is from Dundas Ontario. He has worked with such artists as: Peter Gabriel, King Crimson, Dream Theater, Staind, God Smack, Mudvayne and Tool, to name a few. Together they gave us the double album House Of Golden Bones. The first part of House Of Golden Bones was released October 23, 2012 and the second part dropped on April 9th 2013. together, the two albums make up a concept album complete with a storyline and a graphic novel. I like both albums very much and the standout tracks for me are: A Roomer Of Skin, My Name Is Allen and The Travelers, Pt. 1 and two and the last track Last Of The Real from The first part and Black John, Stalemate, The Conflagration and The House Of Golden Bones, which of course is the title track of both albums. Once again, both albums are much more evenly sequenced and the heavier songs were released a singles such as: Absolute Zero and do Me a Favour. I wish the song Stalemate was released as a single because this song satisfies the musician in me. I like all the key changes it goes through near the end of it and the melody is good too, besides it being a great rocker.
As for who is playing bass on both albums, well… If you’re into the late 80s hair metal, the nameRachel Bolan should be familiar to you. He plays bass for the band Skid Row. They were a band fronted by Canadian singer Sebastian Bach for the first three albums. Then, he was let go and he started a solo career which he still has to this day. The new bass player for Stone Sour is Johny Chow of Fireball Ministry, Soul Fly and Cavalera Conspiracy. Both albums did well and it seemed that everything was stable within the band. However, in early 2014, guitarist Jim Root was let go and was replaced by Christian Martucci, making Corey Taylor and guitarist Josh Rand the two remaining original members, with Jim playing with Corey in Slipknot to this day.
In 2015 the band released to extended plays: Meanwhile In Burbank and Straight Outta Burbank, which consisted of entirely of covers by bands who influence them such as: Judas Priest, Kiss, Metallica, The Rolling Stones, Alice in Chains, Slayer and others. They also released a non-album single The Dark, which is a cover of a song by a band called Metal Church, which was the title track of their 1986 album of the same name. I love that version and especially since we get to hear Kory laughing with that Erie laugh, he uses for Slipknot and sometimes in Stone Sour, during heavier songs. However I like it most of all for proving that artist from today can do a good 1980s metal song justice and they have done well with it, as far as I’m concerned. There were supposed to be three covers EP’s released but it was decided to release only two of them and to keep the rest of the songs for later usage.
Now, onto the new album Hydrograd and I will go through it track by track talking about each song as best I can. Before I do that though, this album is much different from The bands pass releases in that, it is much more focused and straightahead rock, without that many musical die versions into acoustic songs or balids like which appeared in the past. The overall album sound is much more even and if you notice from album to album, that has been the main point of progression. I’ll explain that later on after talking about each song individually.
The track YSIF is an instrumental which could be another background music show opener. Both of Korey’s bands have used this technique on most, if not all of their albums to start them off. On iTunes it says that is explicit but the only word spoken in the song are “hello you bastards” at the beginning and at the end there something spoken backwards, which could sound like the word fuck is in there but I’m not sure. Anyway, it’s there and leads right into the next song.
Taipei Person / Allah Tea is a great anthemic and defiant song. That’s all I can say about it and that’s all you need to know about the song; really. It certainly is one tailor-made for live performances!
Knievel Has Landed is a great song with a really cool baseline and reminiscent of the song Digital from Audio secrecy. Also no, the base is not a synthesizer. It’s just put through some studio effects to make it sound interesting. Either way, it’s a great song.
Hydrograd is a song which I think has some slide guitar on it. It’s a little slow and lumbering but the melody is great and the guitar riff is really cool. There is also some great drum work to check out, as well as the guitar solo.
Song #3 is the first single for radio off the album and it reminds me of a song like Say You’ll Haunt Me, in that it rocks and is also quite catchy as a decent pop song. Both songs I have mentioned here should have dispelled the notion that the band can’t write a decent pop song and let’s be honest, writing such a song is not exactly the highest priority for the band. The main objective is to put out music that rocks and gets people going
Fabuless is the other lead single off the album but unlike the previous song, this is not meant for Radio as such. It’s a great song but it’s more of a fans song along the lines of Mission Statement or 30/30-150. If you notice before each album is released, there are two singles which come out: one for Radio and one which is meant for the fans or as a teaser. Every album has their first two singles but come out around the same time and for this album, it is no coincidence that Song #3 and Fabuless are right beside each other in the albums running order.
The Witness Trees is a great song in a minor key. The melody is very good and the chorus is very strong, making up for rather haunting verses.
Rose Red Violent Blue is not a dumb song, in fact it’s a really good one. What interests me is that it switches keys from vers to chorus. My guess is that it probably won’t be released as a single in the future but, I like it.
Thank God It’s Over is a Great rocker with a strong melody and Coris and a pounding drum beat.
St. Marie is a slower and quieter song and an interesting one, which sounds to me like it has a Country rock Flavor to it. However, it has a great melody and the backing vocals are superb.
Mercy is another great rocker with a strong melody and a large chorus. I love the guitar solo and the subsequent key changes which occur throughout it.
Whiplash Pants is one of the angrier songs on the album and is a traditional song, with Corey both singing and screaming on it. Check out the beginning with the distorted piano on it.
Friday Knights is an example of a song with a loud chorus and a quieter verse. It has a great riff and the melody is excellent.
Somebody Stole My Eyes is a fast song, with a crossover of influences between Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and the standard Stone Sour heavy sound.
When the Fever Broke is the last song and the last of the two softer slower songs on the album. My guess is that it might be a single if the album charts long enough but it’s hard to say. Either way, I like it. This song is another one which also has piano in it as well as other interesting sounds, which could be synthesizers but I’m not sure.
Overall, this album is if not the perfect Stone Sour album, it’s the best they’ve done yet. Corey Taylor and company should be very proud of the work they’ve done in the studio this time and I hope that it goes straight to number one. This indeed is the new quintessential Stone Sour album and has all the elements which makes up the bands sound.
I’m sure that when they go on tour, most of this album will be played in the set list and I hope that there are more than three singles released from it.