After the double whammy of House of Gold & Bones – Part 1 (2012) & House of Gold & Bones – Part 2 (2013), Corey Taylor’s Stone Sour are back (minus Slipknot ‘mate’ Jim Root) and hard fuckin’ rock is now on the agenda, although Hydrograd is not without its metallic moments.
These songs are big, huge even and bred for mass consumption and that’s commendable. After all, Stone Sour are a band far removed from their “mutherfucka get inside” Slipknot-lite anthems that announced their arrival on the scene 15 years ago and progression is inevitable.
In fact, Stone Sour could now be the most commercial metal band currently in operation (Avenged Sevenfold & Disturbed, you’ve slipped down the ranks!) and the sheer widescreen breadth of accessible riffs and hooks on Hydrograd is actually mind-blowing. Corey Taylor has always been larger than life – in spirit, in voice, in providing metal with its most notable spokesperson in a generation – and this album actually feels like the kind of release he was born to deliver. His persona suits broad appeal and while the like of the sickly sweet “St Marie” will have hardened metallers cringing at its Neil Young-esque country warbling, Taylor’s almighty roar and harsh growls are still present, if interspersed a little more liberally than before, and the big, big riffs and massive choruses found on “Taipei Person-Allah Tea”, “Fabuless” & “Whiplash Pants” (a track which echoes the bullish nature of Stone Sour’s debut) are still suitably aggressive.
Fundamentally, Hydrograd is about the melody, the songs that traverse genre boundaries and grab new fans by the throat, kicking and screaming into the semi-darkness of Stone Sour’s rock/metal hybrid.
As equally divisive as Avenged Sevenfold’s Hail To The King, people will either applaud Stone Sour’s audacity or bury them in the ‘sell-out’ quagmire ambitious bands often find themselves floundering in. If you’re in the latter category, that’s your choice but we can’t keep bemoaning the lack of new headlining talent and then cuss those who attempt to make the breakthrough to the highest level.
Hats off to you Stone Sour, Hydrograd is a down ‘n’ dirty rock album overflowing with ideas (perhaps a little too many if the monstrous 15 track rundown is anything to go by) that doesn’t reach anywhere near perfection but certainly smacks you round the face with its steady nerve and pure ambition. 8/10