After delving into concept albums for the ambitious two part House of Gold & Bones albums in 2012 and 2013, Stone Sour went in the opposite direction with a pair of enjoyable covers EPs (Meanwhile in Burbank... and Straight Outta Burbank) in 2015. So what direction did the band go with their sixth studio album, Hydrograd?

It's a more traditional album in terms of structure, and there's plenty of variety. After an intro, the first proper song “Taipei Person / Allah Tea” features ample groove and some call and response vocals. The majority of songs deliver hard rock riffs with a combination of harsh and melodic vocals from Corey Taylor. He gives a versatile performance, displaying everything from soft crooning to traditional singing to aggressive yells.

After mixing the House of Gold & Bones albums, Jay Ruston (Anthrax, Steel Panther) moves to the producer chair for Hydrograd. He lets the band do their thing, blending a groovy rock vibe with crunchy metallic moments.

This is the first studio album for guitarist Christian Martucci. He has a varied background that includes metal and punk, bringing his own approach and style that fits in well with the band's existing sonic framework.

There's no shortage of singles on Hydrograd. The track with the very nondescript title of “Song #3” has already turned into a huge hit, with its memorable melodies and singalong chorus taking it to the top of the Mainstream Rock singles chart.

Taylor takes aim at social media celebrities on “Fabuless,” telling Loudwire Nights host Toni Gonzalez, “There are these people who are famous for nothing. I thought it wouldn’t get any worse than reality television people, and then the social media celebrities came … There were whole Vine tours at one point and thousands of screaming girls, and I’m going, ‘What the hell is this?'” The track warns them that “it's all downhill from here,” with Taylor barking phrases from classic Led Zeppelin and Rolling Stones songs.

And while those are the type of songs you may expect from Stone Sour, they throw a curveball or two along the way, such as “St. Marie,” a soft, introspective song with a country folk flavor. The moody closer “When the Fever Broke” also shows their mellower side. “Somebody Stole My Eyes” is one of the album's heaviest tracks, but still manages to sneak in a catchy melodic chorus.

The album clocks in at more than an hour, but doesn't overstay its welcome. Hydrograd shows why Stone Sour are one of hard rock's most successful bands. Writing hit singles is one thing, but integrating them into a cohesive, well-rounded album is trickier, and they do it with ease.

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