Review Summary: Stone Sour branch off from Come What(ever) May and solidify their radio rock sound.
I think it's safe to say at this point that when there is no Slipknot album/tour currently in the works, there will be a new Stone Sour album/tour. Corey Taylor and Jim Root have juggled between the 2 bands for quite a while now. In 2008, it was evident with Slipknot's release of All Hope Is Gone, Taylor brought a lot of influence from Stone Sour's 2006 sophomore effort Come what(ever) May. The album itself was quite a departure from the strong hard rock sound Stone Sour presented on their debut album and instead dropped the Slipknot influence and opted for a radio rock sound which focused mainly on hooks Taylor would create in the songs (particularly in the choruses). Come What(ever) May wasn’t a bad album for those who don't mind the radio rock sound and Taylor’s melodic vocals, but the first album had much more potential. It's obvious that the nu-metal Slipknot influence on the first album in fact helped them, but once that is thrown out we aren’t left with much but another radio rock band fronted by Taylor. Now the year is 2010 and Slipknot bassist Paul Gray has passed away following Slipknot's All Hope Is Gone World Tour. Stone Sour has reformed for their 3rd studio release. what we are presented with is another radio rock branching off of Come what(ever) May's sound with a few new twists thrown in (particularly Taylor's increased usage of the piano).
The album opens with the title track, "Audio Secrecy", which is a perfect example of what I mentioned just earlier about the piano. The song is a minute and a half of melancholic piano by Taylor, which I found rather pointless, because it doesn’t build up anything for the next track, but I guess they thought it would be good on the album. "Mission Statement" soon blasts in at full force with heavy guitar riffs which lead into Taylor's distorted vocals and a catchy chorus. The song has a decent solo, but its attempt at an angst filled rock song is somewhat mediocre. Most of the songs here focus on trying to create catchy hooks just like on the previous record, and the listener will find that only some of them work while the others fail.
Musically, the album is actually not bad. Jim Root and Josh Rand have some great riffs and solos spread out across the album. Bassist Shawn Economaki doesn’t do much, but he is prominent in some tracks like lead single "Say You'll Haunt Me", which has some really catchy verses but leads into a chorus that sadly brings the song down. Drummer Roy Mayorga is also in top shape, keeping the pace as well as throwing in some great fills here and there. As Taylor and Root are in Slipknot, there actually are some moments reminiscent of Slipknot on here, such as on the track "Let's Be Honest", where Taylor screams nearly the whole track except the chorus. As one listens to the album, they will find that the songs do have a good diversity, but the stronger tracks are hidden amongst the mediocre ones.
As a lyricist, Corey Taylor has never been one of the best. His lyrics on this album aren’t much different then anything else he's done before, but it's his voice that redeems his sometimes poor lyrical content. Evident on songs like "Hesitate" and "Dying", his vocals can soar over the music and bring songs together. Stone Sour rely a lot on this to make their songs memorable, which can be both a strength and weakness at times. "Say You'll Haunt Me" and "Nylon 6/6" are fantastic musically, but Taylor's lyrics can bring the song down with how cheesy and annoying they can sometimes be.
In the end, what we have from Stone Sour this time is a radio rock album with some catchy hooks here and there. The band seem very content with the style they used on Come What(ever) May and they continued with it here on Audio Secrecy. Aside from the somewhat terrible album title, some of the songs are quite mediocre while some are actually pretty decent. Only some tracks are memorable, but those who enjoy Corey's vocals will probably enjoy this album for what it is.