Exactly four years on from the second half of their sprawling masterpiece House of Gold & Bones and Stone Sour sound as mature and as sure of themselves as they were then.
On Hydrograd the band sharpens its focus on their metal and groove sensibilities, often allowing guitarist Christian Martucci to stamp his authority on songs like ‘Friday Knights’ and ‘Somebody Stole My Eyes’. Notably, the back half of Hydrograd is just as strong as the first, a vital element for an album as long as Stone Sour’s tend to be and something with which they’ve struggled in the past.
Stone Sour crunch into metal gear right away. Straight after the intro piece, ‘Taipei Person/Allah Tea’ (say it slooooowly) drops a grinding riff that’s faintly reminiscent of Maiden’s ‘Wrathchild’ as Corey Taylor pulls off a typically chameleonic performance through the driving verses and melodic choruses.
Those melodic choruses are another aspect Stone Sour highlight on Hydrograd, coming back to them time and again no matter which direction the song is taking them, and they veer around frequently. ‘Knievel Has Landed’ is more familiar sonic territory for Stone Sour, and first single ‘Song #3’ is straight-up radio rock but, significantly, the only real track of its kind to be found as the band experiment with style and form. ‘Fabuless’ and ‘Whiplash Pants’ are Slipknot-style groove metal slugfests that drop in surging melodic choruses at key moments, the album’s only ballad ‘St Marie’ features a country-style steel guitar twang and closer ‘When the Fever Broke’ is a dark, contemplative track mired in atmospheric, heavy synths. At times, Hydrograd feels similar to Alter Bridge’s last album, but without the bombastic over-production and drastically long songs, just solid and effective heavy rock and metal with huge choruses and stellar lead guitar work.
This is a vision of a band at their best.
2. Taipei Person/Allah Tea
3. Knievel Has Landed
5. Song #3
7. The Witness Trees
8. Rose Red Vision (This Song is Dumb and So Am I)
9. Thank God it’s Over
10. St Marie
12. Whiplash Pants
13. Friday Knights
14. Somebody Stole My Eyes
15. When the Fever Broke