Review Summary: If anything, it's too consistent- Stone Sour keep up the energy for 11 tracks, only taking a break long enough for a pensive acoustic number ("Bother") to emerge from the fierce assault.
It begins with the pummeling guitar attack of “Get Inside” and hardly lets up from there. For Stone Sour’s eponymous debut album, this has its advantages and disadvantages. The fairly consistent tone of the album- which isn’t to say that it sounds all the same, but every song inspires the same feelings- is sometimes a bit less engaging to listen to than an album with a bit more emotional variety. Almost all of the songs take a straightforward, accessible approach and run with it, employing murky verses, epic choruses, metal breakdowns, and always a roar or two from vocalist Corey Taylor. Ironically, the most variety to be found on this album is in the effect Stone Sour achieves with this formula.
Don’t let that deter you from this release, however. Corey and co. have put together a remarkably solid hard rock record that has enough great moments to warrant a full LP of similar songs. I won’t compare these guys to Slipknot, because I think that the entire point of a side project is to step out of the shadow that the original group has cast over the musician or musicians’ efforts. Some influence is undeniable, particularly on the less melodic songs like “Idle Hands” and “Get Inside,” and Corey’s vocals sometimes skirt the territory of the nu-metal behemoth. But overall, this group’s similarities to Slipknot are only superficial.
The melodic side of the band is emphasized (sometimes jarringly, like on “Bother”) a bit more than even Slipknot’s acoustic songs showed. Those songs still maintained the bitterness and slightly chilling attributes that Slipknot’s more mature moments displayed; here, the melody is used for a slightly more accessible effect. That’s not to say that this is a commercial record- the catchier hooks are still dark and limber beneath their pop façade. If you liked Bother, though, don’t buy the rest of the album without hearing a few other songs- it and the grim closing spoken word track (“Omega”) are so different from the rest of the record that it seems as Corey recorded them by himself and then used them instead of writing a few filler songs.
As for musicianship, there are powerfully average performances all around. Guitar solos make things interesting occasionally, but the guitarists’ real strength is in the writing- this album is groaning under the weight of its own muscular riff-age. The bassist is just back up and rhythm, but when he takes the spotlight (opening of “Blotter” and interlude of “Tumult”) he lends an eerie, menacing, if not entirely complex, touch to the proceedings. The drummer is only decent, and I know I said I wouldn’t compare them to Slipknot, but there are times where you wish Joey Jordison had migrated to this band too. His fills are rare or simple, and he is probably the least interesting member of the band. Corey… Corey screams some on this release, but it feels emotional rather than simply his only way of communicating. His singing voice is excellent, strong and confident despite his limited range.
Lyrically the band’s tilt toward homogeneity takes over. “Bother” and “Omega” feature especially interesting lyrics, and “Inhale” puts a new perspective on things, but in general the words all cover the same topics of betrayal, disappointment and anger that we’ve come to expect from the hard rock crowd. Songs like “Orchids” succeed due to an interesting vocal line and the evocative words that are used, whereas “Idle Hands” fails on both counts. Corey’s rap-metal days died with the bands that imitated him, and to some extent he realizes this, but it would be a while before he ditched it entirely.
“Stone Sour” is a good CD. It has no flaws in its execution, but what it executes can get a little tiresome after listening to it for 50 minutes with only two substantially different tracks. Best taken on a song-by-song basis, this record shows Stone Sour as a fierce force in the hard rock genre and an entity quite different from Slipknot. They’re nothing special, just a great band that defines their sound and proves their skill on this enjoyable debut album.