When we last saw Stone Sour, the triple-Grammy nominated group was playing sold-out shows around the planet in support of 2006's critically acclaimed Come What(ever) May, a sonic blockbuster that entered Billboard's Top 200 Album Chart at No. 4 and went on to sell more than a half-million copies on the strength of three radio hits, including the No. 1 smash single, "Through Glass." Billboard hailed the record as "an intense, taut piece of work," Alternative Press called the group "masters of ass-kicking," adding," In a better America, Stone Sour would be the face of American rock," and Revolver magazine gave the disc four stars and praised the quintet for "demonstrating a dynamic range equaled by few of their peers."
Four years later, the quintet (vocalist Corey Taylor, guitarists James Root and Josh Rand, bassist Shawn Economaki and drummer Roy Mayorga) have returned with a broadened range, a deepened perspective and the determination to make new album AUDIO SECRECY a multi-layered record free of stylistic limitations. "It's everything I've ever wanted to do on one album," says Taylor. "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."
The group recorded AUDIO SECRECY with Come What(ever) May producer Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Alice In Chains, Deftones) at Nashville's Blackbird Studios. When they weren't working on the album, they spent their free time living in a spook-filled crashpad. "That house put us through hell," laughs Taylor. "It was really old, so everything was broken down and leaking and infested with wasps and spiders. I'd get lost because there were so many damn rooms. It was like living in the Haunted Mansion at Disney World. It did keep us in the right mood, though, so maybe we should thank it in the liner notes."
Stone Sour does a lot of things brilliantly—and they do most of them on AUDIO SECRECY, beginning with "Mission Statement," an electrifying track that breaks from the gate with white-knuckle intensity. "It punches you in the face and drags you by the hair like a caveman," laughs Taylor. Prior to the album's release, the band offered "Mission Statement" as a free download. Fans responded en masse and the track was downloaded more than a 1,000 times an hour within a two day period.
Among AUDIO SECRECY's endless highlights is "Say You'll Haunt Me," a heavy-with-melody rock track that best exemplifies the band's ability to pull in fans from cross-pollinating directions. At the album's centerpiece is "Hesitate," an epic "November Rain"-ish type track that's both melodic and melancholic with orchestral strings and a soaring chorus. About the song's emotion, Taylor says, "Lyric-wise, I'm writing from a more personal space here. Whether talking about a relationship or being a father or finding my soul mate, I'm putting it out there for everyone to hear and feel and see if anybody can relate."
The album's title is a play on words for idiosyncrasy. "I'm a fan of double meanings and metaphorical speak," muses Taylor. "There are so many levels to what those two words combined could mean. As a title, it perfectly fit the album."
For guitarist Josh Rand, the track "The Pessimist" holds a special significance. "It's the heaviest song we've done up to this point. I spent a day and a half studying the Hindu scale for the lead. The guitar solo for that song has a very Eastern sound." The song sees Rand shredding with a precise, powerful solo that's melodic and metallic. All the while, it preserves a unique feel.
"The great thing about Stone Sour is that we've got five writers in the band and the sound is like different pieces of cloth coming together to form a blanket," says Taylor. "All you have to do is pull the strings a little tighter to bring those pieces together. Everyone in the band brought in material and we came up with an album that's really alive."
"Threadbare" was written by Mayorga and marks a songwriting debut for the drummer. "The band was really cool and encouraged me to throw some music into the hat," he says. "It's one of the longer, weirder and darker tracks on the record. I'm thrilled everyone embraced it and made it a Stone Sour song. It's very progressive, and it makes for a nice little rollercoaster ride."
Economaki goes deeper into the track, adding, "It's absolutely epic. It's got clean melodies and it modulates. It takes the listener to a whole different dimension."
In addition, Stone Sour's trademark dual guitar assault became even tougher with Jim Root and Josh recording simultaneously. There was no need for them to over-digitize parts or go back and water everything down with Pro Tools. Taking an old school approach, both guitarists entered the booth and ripped away. Says Rand, "We're like five guys playing in a garage and it reflects in the music. There's a song for every mood you can possibly go through in a day."
"This album really represents everything we've been threatening to do," says Taylor. "It has so many different vibes and styles…it's probably the best thing I've done in a long time."
That's a helluva statement considering Taylor's resume, which includes his "other gig" as the lead singer of multi-platinum Grammy winning band Slipknot (Root also pulls double-duty, playing guitar for both groups).
"I'm not trying to change the world, I just want to make music and get some shit off my chest," smiles Taylor. "But at the end of the day, I hope people dig this record. I hope they grab onto something that they want to sing all day. I hope it gets them excited. I hope it makes them think and I hope it makes them want to start their own bands. I hope it makes them happy and most important of all, I hope they feel that it was worth the wait."