aren’t as famous as frontman Corey Taylor’s primary band, Slipknot
, but on the group’s third record, Audio Secrecy
, the hard-rock quintet demonstrate a power and propulsion that outstrips Slipknot’s most recent disc, All Hope Is Gone
. Melodic, tuneful, angry and mournful, Audio Secrecy
gives the listener a little bit of everything, confidently bringing together its divergent sounds into a coherent whole.
Stone Sour vs. Slipknot
Taylor has had such commercial and critical success with Slipknot that it’s easy to forget that he and guitarist Jim Root were initially in Stone Sour before they joined the nine-piece metal outfit. Consequently, Stone Sour are often labeled (usually dismissively) as Taylor’s “pop” band because they’re not as consistently musically aggressive as Slipknot. Such critical shorthand may make it easier for the listener to pigeonhole the two groups, but in truth both bands make room for both piercing melodies and pummeling guitars. With that said, though, Audio Secrecy
does seem to allow Taylor more sonic flexibility than the competent but familiar All Hope Is Gone
did. Then again, Taylor has insisted to journalists that all Stone Sour’s members contribute musical ideas, and considering that this is the band’s first effort since 2006’s Come What(ever) May
, it’s entirely possible that the time apart has rejuvenated all five members.
Accessible Songs That Pack a Punch
practically explodes with intensity and passion, bouncing from head-bangers to prickly ballads. No matter what mode they operate in, Stone Sour wield a tight musicianship, aided by Foo Fighters
producer Nick Raskulinecz, that always emphasizes a bruising commitment to instant accessibility. This is not to suggest that the band members are watering down their material for radio play. Instead, the songs manage to enjoy the best of both worlds, delivering knockout blows while at the same time retaining a sing-along quality that helps them stick in the skull.
Love and Hate
Before the album’s release, Taylor hinted that Audio Secrecy would address his divorce and his new marriage, and the record’s push-pull dynamic between love and anger is one of its strongest assets. The first single, “Say You’ll Haunt Me,” may on the surface seem like a song about a failed love affair, but in fact the gripping track deals with issues of devotion and commitment that are all the more compelling because they’re dressed up with kicking drums and fiery guitars. By comparison, the power ballad “Dying” forgoes sappiness for a candid look into a relationship filled with love that nonetheless can’t last. The fact that they appear back to back on Audio Secrecy only helps to highlight their thematic link: It’s a fine line between hate and infatuation, and Taylor explores that narrow difference superbly.
A Death in the Family
At 14 tracks, Audio Secrecy
overstays its welcome a bit, especially in the middle where a few too many marginal tunes reside. But the fearsome “The Bitter End” and the haunted “Threadbare” help Stone Sour regain their footing as they reach the album’s conclusion. The last Slipknot record had its strengths, but there was an overriding sense of familiarity that diminished its achievements. Audio Secrecy
finds Taylor reborn, both creatively and spiritually. It’s impossible to forget that this record was made before the untimely death
of Slipknot member Paul Gray, a passing that puts that iconic band’s future in doubt. Taylor and his associates will have much to think about when considering their next move, but for now Audio Secrecy
suggests that even before Gray’s death, Taylor had much he had to get off his chest.
'Audio Secrecy' – Best Tracks:
“Say You’ll Haunt Me” (Purchase/Download
“Let’s Be Honest” (Purchase/Download
“The Bitter End” (Purchase/Download
Release date – September 7, 2010