When you look across the span of Stone Sour's career it is clear that they've always been a band who haven't exactly been afraid of trying out new things and bringing new sounds to the table. Even amidst some of their heavier material on the debut record they've always had a very catchy, melodic stream at the core of their sound, something which they've pushed to develop in different ways over the past two decades. With the new record, even on first listen, it is clear that they've actually done very well in grasping what has worked across the different albums and looked to mesh it all together in an impressive glut of tracks which will at the very least leave the Stone Sour faithful very happy indeed.
Over the years Stone Sour have at times unfairly been dubbed as being pretty much Corey Taylor's side project. Whilst of course he's channelled a different creative side (with him ultimately being able to get away with far more than in Slipknot), simply calling this his own personal project is unfair on the rest of the band. Mayorga maintains his very positive consistency on Hydrograd, directing each track with doses of power and important subtlety in equal parts. Considering that this is the first record written since the departure of Jim Root, the partnership between Josh Rand and Christian Martucci on guitar is already proving a strong one as well.
A bit of a downer with this record is that for every interesting avenue taken by the band, there are few truly vanilla moments. Tracks like Taipei Person/Allah Tea and Whiplash Pants grab you by the throat whereas the likes of Thank God It's Over and The Witness Trees drift by in such a shroud of blandness you can't help but become disengaged. It's not a new drawback, Stone Sour have always had a bit of an issue identifying what should have been left on the floor of the editing room.
When this album hits hard, it hits HARD, but whilst this is probably the best thing they've released since Come What(ever) May it's unlikely to truly stick in the long-term, especially amongst such fierce competition in heavy music at the moment.