Review Summary: Good musicians, good songs, pity about the lyrics.
Stone Sour is a side project. Side projects are normally self indulgent excuses for the founder to show off, or just plain crap aren't they (try out the other Slipknot side projects if you want evidence)? Well, Stone Sour are slightly diferent in that they came before Slipknot, just not with any particular success. Fortunately, when Stone Sour released their debut it was well recieved, and even allowed Corey Taylor to mellow out and prove that yes, he can actually sing. Another Slipknot album released, and we arrive at this, their second album, on which they need to prove they can distance themselves from the infamous nine piece.
Well, they got one thing going for them at least. They are one hell of a band. Corey might not have the most soulful clean voice, but it's accurate and angry. He also fronts the band well on record, showing he doesn't need a mask to retain personality. Jim Root meanwhile succeeds not only in being a brilliant guitarist, but being the perfect foil for his fellow axeman Josh Rand. The two play very well together, and have enough flair to make (literally) two note riffs such as the main one on Made of Scars sound vibrant and interesting. The drum and bass fare perhaps less well, not from being particularly bad but just from being left behind in the mix.
The riffs are also helped by some decent production. No, it might not have the punch of Reign in Blood, but the meaty tone lends cliched riffs such as Come What(ever) May a semblance of power. The production on Through Glass in particular is very good, somehow making it radio friendly but quite heavy at the same time towards the end.
As for the songs? Well, if they're trying to get away from slipknot, they've managed it with aplomb in this department. While the headbangers such as 30/30-150 might still be very heavy, they don't have the aimless sense of undirected anger that made the 'knot seem slightly futile. There is some anger, mainly political, but it doesn't really get in the way of the music. No, the band aren't going to revolutionise music (who hasn't written the title tracks riff before), but the songs on display are of a pretty high calibre. Hell, there are even three ballads on display, in the form of sillyworld (sic), Through Glass and Zzyzx Rd, and they're pretty good. The latter in particular before it dissapears in the midst of Corey's self indulgence (that's him playing the solo at the end, and he's milking it far too much) is a heartrending tale of perseverance and hardship. Not bad.
Ah, but there is one severe problem that drags this album down from a potential four to a three. Zzyzx Rd might be affecting lyrically, but it is in fact the only song on the whole album I feel which doesn't suffer from Corey's truly appalling choice of words. He's developed from Slipknot's early 'lets just swear a lot' technique, but his new found eloquence is a really a double edged sword. I'll pick one case point to emphasize this.
The title track is a political diatribe against everyones favourite President, referring to him as a 'Homicidal bastard' who would 'sell us out if you could only find a buyer.' Clever. Well, no actually not really, because if you actually look at the lyrics, they look suspiciously uneducated. By referring to a 'false prohet,' rather than anything which actually describes mr Bush in any meaningful sense, the whole thing sounds like an effort from a 14 year old who's read quite a lot of Micheal Moore. I am sure, that is you mention Bush to Taylor, what you would recieve in return is the identikit rant being supplied by any number of politically interested but not educated bands, a rant which could be torn to pieces with simple questioning. To be honest, Exo Politics (our leaders are aliens) by muse makes a more convincing political statement. And Muse are in on the joke.
Elsewhere Taylor seems to be going through adolescence again in a much more philisophical way. Made of Scars screams of teenage angst, and overuses one of angsty musics most overused cliches, nominally that of scars. 30/30-150, while remaining a good track, seems to have been subjugated to generation X treatment (they called us a dead generation,) just without the intelligence or feeling of, say, Arch Enemy. Through Glass meanwhile, despite the affecting beginning, somehow wrecks it all by talking of how 'The stars they shine for you.' Coldplay anyone?
This album is a decent album. It has a collection of good riffs and brilliant musicians doing what they enjoy most, and chances are you'll enjoy listening to it. Just pretend when you do listen to it, that you can't understand what he's singing about, because after careful examination the eloquence is just a cover for bening idiocy and the lapse into adolescent cliche.