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Album Reviews : Stone Sour – Audio Secrecy

By on September 21, 2010

If the opening track Audio Secrecy is anything to go by, you’re in for a painful 40-something minutes. The titular track has to be one of the more pointless instrumentals this reviewer has ever witnessed, with the solemn piano playing seeming more appropriate for an outro rather than an intro. Fortunately it’s the slightest bit reminiscent of Wednesday 13’s A Bullet Named Christ, which almost saves its ass.

One of the key problems with Audio Secrecy is its lack of consistency – tracks not only fail to flow together, but individual tracks fail to be cohesive in themselves. A prime example of this lies in Digital (Did You Tell), where the vocals and instruments simply don’t fit. The tempo of the music is at odds with that of the vocals, which feel as if they should have been laid down on another track. Unfortunately this isn’t an isolated incident, with Mission Statement and Nylon 6/6 conjuring up similar images.

The record does show consistency in its use of vocal effects, though it borders on ridiculous. Mission Statement, Say You’ll Haunt Me, and Pieces all feature the same effects, almost as if Corey Taylor took the time to wax scream lyrical down his mobile phone at the listener for 4 minutes. Imperfect and Threadbare both utilise an echoing effect, though this adds to the track rather than detracting from it. The album is also in dire need of some cutting, with many tracks dragging on for almost a minute too long – which is an achievement since most hover around the 3-4 minute mark. Say You’ll Haunt Me, Let’s Be Honest, Miracles, and Pieces feel as if they were dragged out simply to fill time.

This isn’t helped by the plethora of acoustic tracks littered throughout the record. Stone Sour’s past two releases have consisted of hard rock with a token acoustic track (Bother and Through Glass, respectively), though it seems as if they’ve taken the opposite route with Audio Secrecy. Dying, Hesitate, and Miracles fall into this category, and although beautiful, showcase a sickeningly radio-friendly and almost country side to the band.

It should be noted that this reviewer is all for growth as a band, and doesn’t always equate a change of sound with selling out – but hell, Dying wouldn’t be out of place on a Nickelback album, and Hesitate isn’t too far removed from shitty Paramore ballads. And this reviewer loathes Paramore. This also applies to Let’s Be Honest, which while not acoustic, is so inoffensive and radio-friendly that this reviewer wouldn’t be surprised if Kyle Sandilands were to play the track on his twatty radio show in the future.

It’s not completely awful though, with some tracks reminiscent of the old Stone Sour, and some breaking the mould. Despite dragging, Say You’ll Haunt Me has an interesting groove, and manages to be poignant and melodic, yet upbeat at the same time. Unfinished’s mix of growling and singing is a nice change from Taylor’s constant crooning (read: whining) on other tracks, while Nylon 6/6’s screaming intro wouldn’t be out of place on a Slipknot record.

The chorus of Pieces is somewhat reminiscent of their second full-length, Come What(ever) May, and features a great – and perhaps oxymoronic – low-key solo. The Bitter End is one of the stand-out tracks from the album, featuring faster drums and guitar-work, vocals that border on screaming, and what could almost be deemed a breakdown.

The last 2 tracks, Imperfect and Threadbare, are some of the unexpected highlights of the album, keeping this reviewer engaged when they could easily have fallen into filler territory. Though Imperfect could have been another dull dragging acoustic country track, it’s echoing effects and strong bluesy twang set it apart. And while Threadbare does tend to drag, it manages to be the perfect outro. It too utilises the echoing sound effect, also incorporating Labyrinth-esque clock chiming that gives off a spacey vibe. The repetition toward the end of the track works well in closing the album, though this is somewhat defeated by screams at the very end.

Verdict: While there are moments of brilliance and flashes of the old Stone Sour, even the most hardcore fans are likely to be disappointed by this dull, filler-laden release. 5/10

Band: Stone Sour
Album: Audio Secrecy
Year: 2010
Genre: Hard Rock
Origin: Iowa, USA
Label: Roadrunner Records
http://www.myspace.com/stonesour

Track listing:

1. Audio Secrecy
2. Mission Statement
3. Digital (Did You Tell)
4. Say You’ll Haunt Me
5. Dying
6. Let’s Be Honest
7. Unfinished
8. Hesitate
9. Nylon 6/6
10. Miracles
11. Pieces
12. The Bitter End
13. Imperfect
14. Threadbare

About

Mitch Booth is the owner, designer and grand overlord of Metal Obsession. In the few seconds of spare time he has outside of this site, he also hosts a metal radio show over on PBS 106.7fm in Melbourne (Australia) and organises shows under the name Untitled Touring. You should follow him on Twitter.