Corey Taylor is generally known as one of the biggest egos out there. Hell, anyone who is the lead singer of a band such as Slipknot is going to receive a lot of attention. His lyrics were known to be filled with violence and vaguely targeted hatred; the typical teenage angst multiplied by ten. These lyrics were always delivered in his trademark scream. Slipknot attracted millions of young listeners from around the globe, and earned the national spotlight. After two albums, Taylor felt the need to branch out and innovate. He set up the side project Stone Sour with the rhythm guitarist from Slipknot. He decided to use wider influences in this new band's musical palette, and also tone down his trademark scream. Stone Sour is a broader, quieter, and ultimately less commercial version of Slipknot. That doesn't mean that they sound entirely different. You can hear the 'Knot influence in nearly every song, from Jim's riffs to Corey's lyrics. Although this album is slightly more innovative and enjoyable than Slipknot's albums, it still suffers from many of the same shortcomings.
The way this album begins, you would be inclined to think this is Slipknot with a different name. Get Inside is essentially rap metal, with Corey's traditionally lame rapping. There is more than enough screaming, the only singing is in a section of the chorus. The riffs are heavy, and double bass appears throughout the song. Basically, it's an average metal song. After hearing this track, I just about turned off the album. I liked Slipknot okay, but I wanted to hear a different kind of music. Luckily, I kept listening, and Orchid's grungy influences kept me hooked for the rest of the album.
This album also revealed the best kept secret in the music world: Corey's singing ability. This guy can straight up fuc
king sing. Perfectly in tune, with the right volume and an excellent timbre. Never does it get annoying, like many other nu-metal vocalists (Jon Davis). While this secret would be revealed two years later on Vol. 3, I think that this album is his finest moment. Unfortunately, he doesn't utilize that singing voice as much as he should. He often screams in his average screamer's voice, and unfortunately raps occasionally. At least three of the twelve real songs on this album could be classified as rap metal, which is probably the worst genre fusion ever to be created.
The instrumentation on this album isn't spectacular, but it is at least adequate. Perhaps the biggest surprise is Jim's playing ability, he is actually a quite good guitar player. Unfortunately, he was too often overshadowed by Mick Thompson in Slipknot. His riffs aren't always technically excellent, but his solos sound surprisingly good. The drummer Joel uses double bass occasionally, and also offers sparse fills. His beats, however, are rather simple and generic. He isn't particularly outstanding, but he isn't meant to be the centerpiece. Remember how the bass might as well not have existed in Slipknot" Well, you can actually hear it here! Not as much as you should, but at least it's audible. The bassist Shawn delivers a few nice intros, such as the one to Blotter. Unfortunately, he often reverts to generic repeated power chords. You can hear examples of this in many songs, but Orchid in particular stands out. In that song, a good bassline would've been greatly appreciated, but instead it is simple repeated power chords.
These guys work together rather well on this album, at least in spots. Stone Sour has a rather wide range of influences, ranging from a grungy-esque sound to almost grindy hardcore a la Slipknot. You can also hear the influences from System of a Down, especially in the song Tumult. To me, that opening riff sounds exactly like something that Daron would churn out, and that's a very good thing. Monolith has the fuzzy riffs and the wailing singing, sounding a lot like Alice in Chains. And the brutal album opener Get Inside, as stated before, might as well be Slipknot. Hell, you can even hear some indie influences in the acoustic masterpiece Bother. Clearly, Stone Sour can be diverse and enjoyable when they try to. Unfortunately, they often lose the creative touch and revert to generic metal tunes.
And now for some less than great aspects of this album. Although Corey's vocals have changed, his lyrics, unfortunately, have not. He still reverts to generalized and pointless social commentary and violent raging. He doesn't really ever try to make a thoughtful metaphor to give color to his lyrics, or branch out into a new topic. And then there's the pointless ending track Omega. This is a pointless rant by Corey on... a variety of things. I'm not really sure why it exists, and seems to be an attempt to feed his ego. I don't think Corey has ever had much creativity in the vocal department, and this album showcases that fact.
Stone Sour only clicks about half the time on this album. The other half of the time, they make bland and boring songs with no meaning. Blotter, Choose, Inhale, Idle Hands... the list goes on and on. Occasionally, they do click on all cylinders though. My personal favorite is Bother. Bother is the hit single off of this album, and received an extended amount of radio play. It is an acoustic song, but nonetheless the best song on the album. That is somewhat surprising, due to the fact that the acoustic songs on Vol. 3 sucked. The acoustic chords sound eerie and haunting. They're nothing at all like those pop songs on the radio. Corey's lyrics are good here, and give the listener a depressed and hopeless feeling. Corey's voice gets double and triple backed on occasion, giving force to his statements and feelings. I admire Stone Sour's innovative efforts, and I really enjoy this song.
Overall, this is a diverse and fun album. Perhaps not an altogether solid one, but there are several enjoyable songs. It isn't very heavy, so it should appeal to all listeners. Thankfully, nu-metal doesn't poke up it's head very much in this album, making it straightforward melodic metal. If you don't pick up the whole album, there are a handful of songs that you need to own.
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