A stone sour is a drink made of one part whiskey and a splash of orange juice, with or without an addition splash of sweet and sour (I’ll be damned I might actually teach your guys something). Stone Sour is a band made up of one part rock and a splash of melody, with or without an additional splash of sweet and sour (not really). That’s how Corey Taylor and Jim Root describe their “side project (I’ll address that later)”. Following that recipe, they have created something worthy of putting the name “Stone Sour”on it.
Stepping away from the fact that their last two LP’s (Come What(ever) May and Audio Secrecy) weren’t really up to snuff, and just seemed like a reason to go tour for a few months, I really had no idea what I was getting into. I really had only come into contact with Stone Sour a few months before, and I hoped that this was able to tie me over until the new Megadeth record (Super Collider (which I will also review so stay tuned for that)) came out. Boy has it tied me over.
Gone Sovereign and Absolute Zero start off the two part concept album. Bringing in the “junk food” hooks that Taylor has so well integrated into almost every song he’s a part of, they sink their teeth into your ears and don’t let go until they bleed. And by bleed, I mean come back begging for more. They also represent the first portion of the Overture of the concept, that of a character, known as The Human, waking up in a strange world and finding himself in contact with a creature named Allen, being chased by zombies called Numbers with their leader Black John (this comes directly from the included short story).
Stone Sour – “Gone Sovereign” (Official Music Video)
A Rumor of Skin is the next song, which describes almost a trial like atmosphere in the verses, particularly with lyrics such as “The jury seems to be deadlocked”. It’s chorus, much like Absolute Zero as well as countless other Slipknot and Stone Sour songs, simply soars above what you expect from the heavy verse riffs and almost spoken lyrics. The Travelers, Pt. 1 breaks away to feature Corey playing some simple acoustic chords and providing a pleasantly passionate performance, which morphs into Tired (I believe following the same chord progression as well). Once again, as with the previous tracks, Jim Root’s guitar solo is as tasteful as it is intricate, and just makes the song work.
Now we start to get into the second half of the album, opening with the bastard spawn of 80’s thrash and 90’s alternative metals, also known as RU486. Follow that up with My Name is Allen (most of the characters of the story are mentioned in song titles), it gives you a double dose of adrenaline, which doesn’t get to fully express itself until the very last song, because as soon as Allen concludes, Taciturn, a slow acoustic driven ballad featuring a sorrowful Corey Taylor singing what almost appears to be a eulogy.
The last three songs are Influence of a Drowsy God, The Travelers, Pt 2, and Last of the Real. They are all very good, but it seems in the context of the entire album, they really kind of fall short. Influence, for example doesn’t bring over any of the talent that the previous songs have showed, particularly in the chorus, where Josh Rand and Jim Root opt to play simple held out power chords. The Travelers has the potential to really expand on the mini concept, but doesn’t do more than add some distorted guitar and drums with a little bit of piano. And finally, Last of the Real has all the energy and the lyrics scream “This is the New Metal Head’s Anthem”, but without the musicianship that was so well carried throughout the album.
I really went in here not knowing what to expect. I had to restrain myself from listening to any singles off of the record before the whole thing was released, and I’m glad I did, because the whole album is absolutely stunning, save some minor excusable flaws. I give it a 9/10, and urge you strongly to go buy the actual record, due to the fact that you get a bunch of other goodies as well (the first part of the short story, as well as the fact that the album’s packaging makes a house when combined with the second part). I also stated that I would address the label “side project” and I leave with this last notion: anyone who says that this is only a side project, deserves to get beat down. Taylor and Root wouldn’t have put this much work into these albums and given it to Stone Sour if they had considered the band merely a side project.
Pros: Pure stadium rock, with a focus on technical ability as well as anthemic vocal harmonies and choruses
Cons: Confusing concept, some songs fall short
Overall: I really wanted to pass this off like I did other albums in the last couple years, but I can’t it’s too good.
Please watch out for Part 2, appearing later this week.