Yes, this is Corey Taylor. No, this is not Slipknot. Yes, that is a good thing.
Before I review Stone Sour, let me cover my bases here. No, I am not a huge Slipknot fan. While I enjoy some of there stuff, thereís also stuff that I donít enjoy. You can take that for what itís worth. Second, no, I donít think that that matters at all. Stone Sour is a separate group from Slipknot, and I have no problem reviewing this CD outside of any Slipknot influence. Finally, I will draw a couple of Slipknot references in this review, but as for comparing the two bands, thereís no point. Now that Iíve thoroughly covered my ass as best I can, on with the show!
Stone Sour provides an excellent mix of hostility, reservation, brutality and melody. The album has much more a mainstream sound than expected, but also comes across in a way that fans of hardcore metal will enjoy and respect. The growling is kept to a minimum, and Corey allows his (quite decent) singing ability to stand out. The guitar riffs throughout the album come across as powerful, but they avoid playing heavy and fast simply for the sake of playing heavy and fast. Lyrically, Taylor takes the listener through his fairly demented life, from lashing out at friends and lovers to quiet despair.
The CD opens up with possibly the heaviest track on the album, Get Inside. The scorching speed-metal verse and screaming chorus are played off pretty well against the melodic pre-chorus, immediately showing the versatility of the band. The guitars also make the switch between the crunchiness of the verse and the melody of the pre-chorus. A great way to start off the album.
Orchids opens up with a very nice bass riff and a nice marching drum beat, moving into a song highlighted by some great lyrics. The chorus ďDonít try to be the one person who has stayed just to say they never left meĒ is one of the best lines of the album. Corey restrains himself from screaming everything, and the bridge is the first appearance on the album of some damn good melody.
Cold Reader has a couple of different styles mixed in it. The verse is reminiscent almost of a Linkin Park song, without the rap feel that Linkin Park tends to have. The chorus and the guitar work, however, are almost totally old-school Pantera. The chorus could easily have been on The Great Southern Trendkill as opposed to this album. The addition of the turntables really adds nothing to an otherwise great song.
Blotter opens with another deep bass riff before going into the song. While itís a good song, it wouldíve probably worked better had they let the bass really take the lead throughout the whole song. The guitars again almost have me convinced that Dimebag is playing on the album. The bridge has a great breakdown, with the bass providing backbone and a haunting guitar in the background of the vocals.
Choose is yet another song where the bass takes the lead on the intro, but on this one they allow the bass to play a more important role in the verse. However, a fairly weak and repetitive riff makes this a fairly weak track. The song really doesnít go anywhere, with a short chorus, and long, drawn-out verse riff.
Monolith opens with some great two-guitar work, which continues throughout the track. James Root and Josh Rand are two strong guitarists with great chemistry, and both are given the ability to show off their skills on this album. Coreyís singing over the driving guitars makes this song stand out, and the double bass on the end provides a great close.
Inhale is a song about personal despair, with a great groove in the verse, and an emotional chorus. The song climaxes with a scorching bridge, with Corey growling before going back into the more melodic chorus.
Bother seems to be the song that the album has been preparing everyone for. This song is stripped down of all distorted, heavy guitars and all of the trademark Corey screaming. Instead is an acoustic song about despair and giving up on everything. Corey proves once and for all that he is a legitimate vocalist who doesnít need to rely on destroying his vocal chords to make a good song.
Blue Study brings the album back to where it was, with a very first-album Godsmackish guitar riff. Once again, the mellow verse plays very well versus the heavier chorus (have we seen a pattern yet to the album?) Once again, the song closes with a brutally heavy ending.
Take A Number reminds me once again of Pantera before Philís voice was destroyed by eating gravel. Itís very reminiscent of something that couldíve been on ďVulgar Display of Power,Ē but without all of the Pantera energy.
Idle Hands and Tumult are the last two songs on the album, both being pretty straightforward heavy music. Tumult works very well, with the leading bass being put through a couple of effects to give it a pretty weird sound. The final track is a spoken-word piece called Omega that makes me hope that I never accidentally piss off Corey.
Overall, Stone Sour did some damn good stuff on this album, and, if it wasnít for extenuating circumstances, would probably be set at least for a year long tour and a heavily anticipated follow up album. However, with Corey having to split his time between Stone Sour and Slipknot, my guess is that the majority of his energy is gonna be spent on Slipknot, which is his bread and butter band. Itís unfortunate, though, because Stone Sour has some pretty good potential. Although most of their songs followed the same pattern, they were good for what they were. Also, the inclusion of Bother showed that Stone Sour is more than willing to head in a different direction. I wouldnít want to hear an entire album of songs like Bother, but it provided a nice break from the rest of CD. If Stone Sour were able to mix up the rest of the album a little more, they potentially had a smash on their hands. As it is, itís definitely worth a listen. However, Slipknot Maggots beware, this may not be what you want to hear from #8.
The 411: A solid effort first album effort. Letís just hope that Corey can take enough time away from Slipknot to follow this one up.