When Corey Taylor comes to your mind, alternative country isn't the first thing that typically comes to your head. Sure enough, there's traces of it on the new Stone Sour record. Stone Sour have a new sound in Hydrograd, their latest record that'll leave you hoping for more new and less of the old.
There's an instantly more alternative presence on Hydrograd that you wouldn't expect from Stone Sour. Admittedly, upon first listen, it almost feels like a step down from their previous double-album experience The House Of Gold and Bones, the heavy progressive antics of those records being traded out for the radio rock anthem 'Song #3' and the Russian "Hello, you bastards!" that opens the record on 'Ysif.' Something feels almost out of character for the band to sound like this, even in the heavy versed 'Taipei Person/Allah Tea' with its weirdly harmonized choruses that has clear influences rooted in 70s and 80s rock.
While the album progresses, you sort of grow along with the song. It's really not a bad thing for a band to experiment, though when you have an attachment to a specific sound the band has made, it can be hard to get used to a new sound (the classic example: Linkin Park). As Taylor said, regarding Chester Bennington and Linkin Park, however: "At least Chester’s standing up for his new shit instead of hiding behind a wall of rhetoric because they’re afraid of not making money. Linkin Park is at least trying to do something different. You may not like it, but who gives a shit? There are people out there who will like it, and they’ve at least got the balls to do it... People are so afraid of risk, that the only way you really win is if you risk, and that’s all we’ve done our whole career." Stone Sour definitely does not stray from trying something new out of their own want: the alternative country sound of 'St. Marie' is indicator enough that they're not afraid to try their hand at something different.
That being said, there are plenty of moments where Stone Sour connect to the riff-led power of their previous records. 'Whiplash Pants' in particular has a particularly violent delivery that sounds familiar in the context of even Slipknot's earlier tracks. 'Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I)' has a bluesy beginning before exploding into a sort of final hurrah, its big composition giving it an anthemic presence. Title track 'Hydrograd' is fast paced with an energetic riff paired with evil sounding leads, and single 'Fabuless' roars angrily (if not aimlessly). 'Knievel Has Landed' brings a huge riff to the table with an immediately more aggressive and loud sound, most closely calling back to the band's back catalogue.
Stone Sour have a new sound in Hydrograd, and though it's very evident that it's not yet perfected, it's a step in the right direction for them. You can never blame a band for trying something new, regardless of if you're a fan of it or not. At the end of the day, the band is evolving out of their own tastes and there will ultimately be people who appreciate it. The least you can do if you don't like a band's new sound is support their drive to try something new. That's definitely worth respect.
Favorite Track: Knievel Has Landed, Hydrograd, Song #3
Least Favorite Tracks: Fabuless, St. Marie
Rating: 75 / 100
Stream or buy Hydrograd on Apple Music: