Stone Sour are heading into some uncharted areas with the release of their sixth studio album, Hydrograd, which features a sound that, though seemingly familiar, has expanded if even ever-so slightly into new territory. Not to say that it travels too far from the formula, but it does explore a new dimension of the band that has opened up a whole new world of discovery for both Stone Sour and fans alike. A 15 song monster of a record, Hydrograd is a small step away from that dark, somber tone we’ve become so adjusted to, to an album bursting full of positive energy and permeating light.

Though the vibe and content is less heavy, that doesn’t mean the sound follows suit. Stone Sour have experimented on Hydrograd, but they haven’t forgotten their roots and that’s clear from the get go. The opener, “YSIF,” comes in cheekily with a gentleman hollering, “Hello, you bastards,” but suddenly switches gears as a guitar rolls in, building up what’s to come with “Taipei Person/Allah Tea.” This is a track that we’ve already previously heard as a single release, but its place on the record suits it well as one of the most outwardly aggressive and hard-hitting tracks on the entirety of the record. Corey Taylor‘s vocals really hit the petal to the metal, further intensified by the chants rising triumphantly around him and that thrashy power of the guitars. Hydrograd is off to a good start, but can it keep up?

Following an explosive start is “Knievel Has Landed,” which has one of the most inciting openings. The track, overall, drives slower, but still features moments that punch. It’s not as strong as “Taipei Person/Allah Tea,” but we do get to hear more of Corey’s guttural screams on this one. Stepping it up a bit is “Hydrograd,” which features eerie wailing guitars that cast a shadow over you. Christian Martucci really shows off his chops in this one with a catching solo that really amplifies the title track. “Hydrograd” really shines through as one of the best on the record with an addictive and intense sound that really showcases off the strong suits of each member in the band.

One of the most radio-friendly tracks on Hydrograd, “Song #3,” features a softer side to Stone Sour. Not quite “Through Glass” soft, but a gentle song in comparison aside from “St. Marie,” which is as close as this record gets to a ballad. I must say though, “St. Marie” is where Stone Sour loses me a bit with its country twang. It’s place on the record is a bit confusing, standing out like a sore thumb as something else entirely. With songs like these, it shows off the cohesiveness issues of Hydrograd, where the songs don’t necessarily stand together as a unit, but shine more brightly on their own. I get that Stone Sour are having fun with experimenting this time around, but songs like “St. Marie” unfortunately don’t feel like they belong. Back to the good…

“Whiplash Pants” is a huge surprise on the record as one of the heaviest listens. Slipknot is a separate thing entirely, and I try my best not to compare, but its hard to deny that it has some similarities, which you’ll definitely never find me complaining about. Spiteful and full of rage, “Whiplash Pants” is a refreshing, familiar listen on an effort that works to pave a new path for Stone Sour. Settling the waters and closing the curtain on Hydrograd is “When The Fever Broke,” which is another stripped-down performance, mainly focusing on Corey’s vocals that, as always, are strong and on point. It’s a great way to wind down from a record that has its fair share of highs and lows, but one thing’s for sure, Stone Sour won’t be coming down from this one for quite some time with a record that is bound to please.

Stone Sour are having fun this go around, but not at the expense of the seriousness that comes with creating a solid album. Though a lack of cohesion does shine through over the course of the 15 songs, Hydrograd still finds itself to be one of the most satisfying and good time listens of 2017 thus far.