As far as introductions following a four-year absence go, a Russian voice exclaiming “Hello, you bastards!” is a pretty telling one. Tongue in cheek and a million miles away from say, Slipknot’s most recent opener ‘XIX’, it gives a pretty clear indication of where frontman of both bands Corey Taylor is at just now, and what this brand new Stone Sour album, ‘Hydrograd’, sets out to achieve.
Before delving into this album’s not inconsiderable 65-minute duration, it’s important to look at the events that preceded it. Fans will be pleased to know that things haven’t really changed too much sonically since the departure of Jim Root, while the band’s ‘Burbank’ covers EPs released in recent years have hinted at the band’s new direction. Packed with classic hard rock and metal tracks, ‘Hydrograd’ is littered with subtle references to heavy music’s rich heritage.
None more obvious than the album’s excellent first single ‘Fabuless’, referencing both Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones, it feels more than ever the band are wearing their influences on their sleeve. The band, (and Taylor in particular) even embrace hair metal at points with ‘Taipei Person/Allah Tea’ and the anthemic ‘Thank God It’s Over’. On paper, this may seem somewhat masturbatory, but with the album’s cutting, raw production, it just about works.
Despite a lot of consistency, ‘Hydrograd’’s length is its biggest problem. Ploddier numbers like ‘Mercy’ and country ballad ‘St Marie’ are decent enough, but ultimately could be relegated to the deluxe edition to give the record just a little more pep.
Longtime supporters shouldn’t worry though; ‘Hydrograd’’s title track and driving album highlight ‘The Witness Trees’ are quintessentially Stone Sour, while ‘Whiplash Pants’ will provide a fleeting rage fix for fans of their debut release.
Simply put, if you weren’t interested in Stone Sour before, ‘Hydrograd’ is very unlikely to do much to change that. What this record does do is provide some fun, high-quality hard rock, and you get the impression that was all it was ever meant to be.
‘Hydrograd’ by Stone Sour is out now on Roadrunner Records.
Words by Josh Graham (@jollyboyjosh_)