Top critical review
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Same goods with some gimmicks.
on 22 November 2012
This album goes against itself in a way; the songs take on a more mainstream, repetitive, melodic structure yet try to be different by using a bunch of gimmicky samples and sounds. This may be a way of expressing some sort of myriad of subliminal messages but after a while it becomes boring and tacky. Ultimately, people usually buy an album for the music. So give us music, not garbled radio-EQ'd speech and pitch-bending strings to kill time. This is the most irritating aspect of the album.
The songs themselves are all rather similar to each other as well as to the songs on the album previous to this one, 'Audio Secrecy' e.g. 'Taciturn' to 'Zzyzx Rd.' and 'RU486' and/or `Last of the Real' to 'The Bitter End.' Personally, I don't really mind this too much as I take pleasure in the Stone Sour sound and feel, but it is something to note. The music itself is still enjoyable; there are no bad songs on the album but then again that's because they're all alike. Nonetheless, the sound is powerful with some great moments. The music has its pitfalls but it still shines.
According to Tim New Bound from rocksound.tv the album is "Based on Corey Taylor's fictional tale of a man faced with the choice of growing up or sheltering in the irresponsibility of youth." In an interview Taylor himself said that "the story is definitely influenced in a lot of ways... by my journey to figure out who I am," and he then goes on to talk about other influences and references, but having read Taylor's book I cannot help but feel that this album is almost entirely an expression of his childhood. This is neither a criticism nor a praise but an observation; often the lyrics merely portray an angsty teenager just shouting and generally being angry at people whilst wanting to "watch the whole world burn." However this is another observation and at times I am little annoyed by it but overall it is not something to mark the album down on.
The lyrics are a little tedious. Having listened to all if not most of Stone Sour's material the words and structure have a somewhat overly familiar ring to them. I hesitate to say they are predicable but it would be nice to have something a bit more fresh and original.
Overall, a must for any Stone Sour fan as the band have yet to steer a little more dangerously and evolve. Whilst the music has its irritations it's still enjoyable and meaningful, albeit of the same stuff. On a final note, although not necessarily the band's fault, there are several shameful engineering mistakes within the album. The mix is fantastic, but at this professional level of music production you don't expect to hear crackle and buzz from the guitars/amps, let alone hiss as well as any click track spill from ProTools (the latter most noticeable during the piano of The Travelers, Pt. 2). In fairness however, most people are not bothered by these things.
Update: Having listened to this album for a considerable while longer I have found that it has grown on me - in other words I have warmed towards the songs more. However, my view remains the same and although the album may become more appealing to the listener over time as familiarity grows I stand by my verdict of three out of five.