STONE SOUR are returning with their sixth studio album, Hydrograd. With Jim Root no longer a member of the band or making an appearance on the record, it’s the time for new members Christian Martucci and Johny Chow to join the ranks and show what they’ve brought to the table. With an already popular back catalogue consisting of tracks such as Made of Scars, Through Glass, and Say You’ll Haunt Me, where does Hydrograd stand in STONE SOUR’s repertoire?
YSIF opens the record, and you can immediately feel a change from STONE SOUR‘s previous efforts. While there’s something slightly comical about the album opening up with “Hello, you bastards!”, YSIF is instrumentally dark. This may be due to the fact that this is STONE SOUR‘s first record without guitarist Jim Root (SLIPKNOT), and with new member Christian. The track is significantly more dramatic than expected, before blasting into Taipei Person – Allah Tea, which sets the bar for the rest of the album incredibly high. The lyrics are thought provoking, and the mix between aggressive riffs and more uplifting, clean choruses makes it an enticing listen and pulls you right in.
Johny Chow and Christian Martucci are the latest additions to the STONE SOUR register, and according to Roy Mayorga (read more in our interview with him), these guys were a crucial component for STONE SOUR‘s change and development. That, along with practising and creating together in the studio, have helped to create a record that sounds so polished yet natural. It feels as if STONE SOUR have pushed the boat out as far as they could with Hydrograd, to create a diverse record that pushes the limits of what STONE SOUR have previously offered.
Whiplash Pants is one of the strongest tracks on the record by a mile. The ferocity in Corey’s vocals, Roy’s drum thrashing, and the contributions of Christian, Johny, and Josh, create a barbaric track with force akin to SLIPKNOT’s, yet simultaneously unique. Other standout tracks on the record include Friday Knights, Somebody Stole My Eyes, and the title track. Hydrograd (the track) features Martucci’s strongest guitar work, with an incredible solo tying the track together and demonstrating from that one track alone that he is an essential component to STONE SOUR‘s sound. Friday Knights brings mixed feelings, as it opens as an incredibly fast-paced track and suddenly slows down, which doesn’t quite feel like it works. As soon as it picks up again, however, it brings in one of the best choruses of the record.
What’s also incredibly pleasant about Hydrograd is that like STONE SOUR‘s other records, it has a nice amount of variety in it which restricts it from being monotonous in any way. You have the ferocity of Whiplash Pants, along with the emotions expressed in Corey’s voice in St. Marie, which makes every track a surprise on the first listen as you never know what quite to expect. What you’re left with at the end, however, is an incredibly well-made record that explores every dimension of STONE SOUR‘s sound, while taking a step beyond what they’ve done previously. Hydrograd ends with an emotional send-off, When the Fever Broke. Corey’s words over some of the most beautiful guitar work in STONE SOUR‘s discography finishes off the album beautifully.
Hydrograd is purely a continuation of STONE SOUR upping their game and becoming one of the biggest names in music today. Their combination of thrash, punk, and hard rock elements, and a collective lifetime of musical experience, have crafted an absolute gem of a record that is a definite contender for 2017’s top albums. Compared to their previous albums, Hydrograd is a massive leap forward, and that’s saying something.
Hydrograd is set for release on June 30th via Roadrunner Records.
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