Review Summary: Stone Sour succeed once more in proving they're no Slipknot in terms of quality. Not by a long shot.
It was quite obvious that Stone Sour’s second effort pulled the band into a safer zone, with punchy, radio-friendly, fist-pumping tracks. At the same time, there was plenty of room for surprises, which kicked in during the second half of the album and provided a pleasant ending, ringing the bell and shouting out loud: “Hey, man, this ain’t Slipknot, this is better.” That alone left listeners wondering how much originality Corey could possibly squeeze out of Stone Sour for their third effort. In the end, he fails to find any unique ideas, rejects the originality, strips the band from all their knowledge about good alternative metal music, and goes for the safe mediocre and all so familiar sound of mainstream rock.
Let’s face it; Corey Taylor has been gifted, undoubtedly, with one of the best voices in metal of this millennium. Instead of using it for complex arrangements and challenging his vocals to improve some undertones here and there, he chooses to take the simple path of producing ear-friendly Nickelback sounds, similar to Chad Kroeger. Meanwhile, Jim Root’s repetitive riffs and Mayorga’s boring drumming convince us even more that Stone Sour came a long way from their debut.
Another disturbance in Taylor’s voice represents the unnecessary and excessive use of profanity and weak lyrics. The cliché-filled “Here we go again” in “Digital” is as cheesy as Justin Bieber repeating the word “baby”, without having a minimum idea of what he’s singing about, which is the conclusion you reach after listening to most of the songs on Audio Secrecy. Then again, Corey Taylor has better chances of being taken seriously during his melodramatic moments than during his violent screaming ones. Not only is there a serious lack of screaming and heavy periods on the album, but even those few moments disturb the potential to reach higher. In short, those screams have all been said and done with Slipknot, so trying to dig up the past is pointless, especially here.
All this ranting about the vocalist, but is Corey really the only one to set on fire? Where is Jim Root in this? Where are his all so famous riffs and aggressive solos? I understand this was never meant to be a Slipknot copy-cat of a record, but talk about boring instrumentation. The acoustic guitars in “Imperfect”? Didn’t we hear those in Bother and Through the Glass? Not to mention the overall tone and song structure. Mister Corey Taylor, the one who bashed Chris Martin for Coldplay’s unoriginal approach in Viva La Vida, is suddenly not such a hot shot when it comes to copying his band’s earlier tracks. Oh ,yeah, and that’s another reference to a Nickelback style of composing.
That said, it wouldn’t seem fair to point out the negatives without looking at the positives. Good songs are interrupted by bad songs, transitions are horrible, it doesn’t feel like a whole album at all, Nickelback...oh wait, I forgot...positives. At first listen, it’s actually enjoyable: the delightful and uplifting “Mission Statement” punches hard and starts the album just right, while the truly beautiful and soulful “Hesitate” hints at a much more sentimental sound, which is sure to be adored on the radio, as pretty much the whole album will be. Other songs, such as the aggressive-wanna-be “The Bitter End” or the terrible scream filled “Let’s Be Honest” might attract a slightly different audience.
Speaking of which, “let’s be honest” is what Corey Taylor asks us. Very well then: it’s all honesty when I say that Audio Secrecy had the potential and the magic, but Corey’s lyrics, songwriting and overall idea of an album structure break that potential into bits until you reach “Threadbare”. That coming from an incredible vocalist who wrote some extremely solid Slipknot records is a shock for me. Unfortunately, most of the times the hype is bigger than the final result, which, “let’s be honest”, ends up being the sad face behind the violent (Slipknot) mask.