Stone Sour: Audio Secrecy
Roadrunner Records (2010)
Formed initially in 1992, metal quintet Stone Sour performed primarily across the bar scene of Des Moines, Iowa, for five years before temporarily breaking up as two of its members went on to a little band known as Slipknot. After reforming back in 2002, Stone Sour released two studio albums: the self-titled Stone Sour received two Grammy Award nominations for Best Metal Performance, and the band’s second studio album, Come What(ever) May, received another. These were followed up in 2007 by a live album from Moscow while on tour, and on September 7, 2010, Stone Sour’s third studio album, Audio Secrecy, hit the shelves.
Corey Taylor, lead singer of the band (you may know him better as Slipknot’s lead singer), describes their newest album as ?everything I’ve ever wanted to do on one album. It’s heavy, It’s melodic, It’s dark, It’s slow, It’s light and It’s beautiful. You’ll hear something different with each listen.?
Of course, another way of saying this is that the album is a bit uneven.
It gets off to a good start, though. ?Audio Secrecy? is a haunting piano intro that is exactly the dark, slow, melodic, and beautiful that Taylor speaks of; then the album slams directly into the adrenaline-driven ?Mission Statement,? setting you up for a kick-ass rock-metal album. The next couple of tracks follow along the same lines, but then things seem to lose their footing.
The turning point is the song ?Dying?; there, the weight of producer Nick Raskulinecz starts to be felt, with the group getting 1,000-voice choruses that hearken back to Def Leppard and glam rock bands of the 80s. A couple of tracks later we get ?Hesitate,? which, if you happen to be a fan of R.E.O. Speedwagon, is probably a great song. I’m willing to bet most metal fans aren’t.
This heavy production continues through much of the album, which strikes me as a bit odd considering that the group encourages bands to figure out their sound by playing on the bar and club scene. There’s simply no way that these songs could be played at bars and clubs while sounding anything like the studio tracks.
Yet even the production can’t disguise that this is an album that really doesn’t know where It’s going or how It’s going to get there. Jumping from ?Hesitate? to a Voivod-esque ?Nylon 6/6,? followed by the arena ballad ?Miracles,? and then to straight-up rock with ?Pieces?, then moving to the techno-influenced metal of ?The Bitter End,? It’s a bit of a whirlwind. The next song, ?Imperfect,? is a standard alternative ballad which, amusingly enough, begins the chorus with the line, ?Oh, what do you wanna hear?? At that point, it seems like the band certainly has no idea and is throwing in a little bit of everything in the hopes that they nail it.
This isn’t saying that any of it is bad. All of the songs are at least decent, and there are a couple of real stand-outs?such as ?Mission Statement? and ?The Bitter End??here and there if You’re into solid metal. Certainly the tracks are all individually very radio-friendly. But very little of it stands up and demands that you pay attention. If the album had a consistent feel to the music, this would actually make it great for studying, but the constant changes tend to work against that as it breaks you from your flow.
The bottom line is that if You’re happy with what your local ?hard rock? radio station plays, you may want to give Stone Sour’s Audio Secrecy a listen. But be sure you sample all the tracks before you buy it; otherwise, you could find yourself getting less than you expected.