Corey Taylor may be most well-known for his role as the lead singer of Slipknot, but it's in his hard rock side project Stone Sour that he utilizes the fullest extent of his talent. The group's self-titled 2002 album displayed a completely different side of Taylor from what was seen in Slipknot, as he bared his soul through more mature and diverse songs. Both "Get Inside" and "Inhale" received Grammy nominations for Best Metal Performance, but the clincher was the heart-rending single "Bother", showing just what a skilled and versatile singer Taylor was. 2006's Come What(ever) May furthered Stone Sour's reputation and recognition, leading to prominent touring slots and the group's third Grammy nomination, again for Best Metal Performance with "30/30-150". Returning for album number three, Audio Secrecy, Stone Sour continues to impress with their heartfelt lyrics and inspiring music.
This album is much darker than either of its predecessors, which is remarkable considering some of the songs on those two albums. Audio Secrecy is laced with monstrous compositions creating the perfect brooding atmosphere to match the emotional content of the lyrics. However, the darkened feel does not equate with a lack of energy. In fact, Audio Secrecy may be the most lively, well-paced album of Stone Sour's career. Lead guitarist Jim Root delivers some of the best solos of his career, shredding through the faster songs while using precision technique to augment the slower songs perfectly. Drummer Roy Mayorga also shines on this album, adding great drum fills at key moments and holding the rest of the music together with his metronome-like timing.
Audio Secrecy has one full-on ballad, "Imperfect", which doesn’t quite match the power of "Bother", but still has a clear personal touch that tugs at the heartstrings. Additionally, there are a good number of softer tracks on this album that are similar to "Through Glass" from Come What(ever) May. However, this does not indicate a change in direction for Stone Sour. There are more than enough potently aggressive tracks discussing the bleak events of Taylor's recent personal life. The balance between the heavy and the less intense puts Audio Secrecy above its predecessors, and Taylor's singing perfects this balance.
Taylor is once again at the top of his game, and like the music, his singing is much darker as well. Audio Secrecy sees Taylor creeping ever closer to his vocal style on Slipknot, adding more rasp and grit to his singing in some songs, while incorporating throat-lacerating roars into others. Straightforward clean singing is still the biggest part of Taylor's vocal format in Stone Sour, though, and he stays true to form with an emotionally-charged, breathtaking performance from start to finish. There is no possible way that he can be accused of being a one-dimensional or even two-dimensional performer anymore. Corey Taylor is undoubtedly one of the best singers in the world, and the diversity of his talent is the reason why.
Stone Sour has tapped into their full potential on Audio Secrecy, and it really shows when the album is heard in order, from beginning to end. The flow of the album is gorgeous, made all the better by the aforementioned balance between soft and heavy. And even when the album is broken down into its individual songs, each one bears its own excellence. From the lighter tracks "Say You'll Haunt Me", "Dying", and "Imperfect"; to the heaviest songs "Mission Statement", "Unfinished", and "The Bitter End"; as well as everything in between, Audio Secrecy is the very definition of Stone Sour. Moreover, it is an archetypal album that defines what new bands in the hard rock and alternative metal scene should aspire to.
Score: 7 out of 10
1. Audio Secrecy
2. Mission Statement
3. Digital (Did You Tell)
4. Say You'll Haunt Me
6. Let's Be Honest
9. Nylon 6/6
12. The Bitter End
Corey Taylor - Lead vocals, keyboard, guitar
Jim Root - Lead guitar, backing vocals
Josh Rand - Rhythm guitar
Shawn Economaki - Bass guitar
Roy Mayorga - Drums