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Stone Sour 

Stone Sour (Roadrunner)

Stone Sour is no mere side project; this is Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor's coming-out party as a major rock voice. He's always been great at commanding the maggots, barking lyrics from behind his mask. But with Stone Sour, he's unmasking himself in more than one sense. The lyrics are more vulnerable and less hate-fueled; there's even a semi-acoustic ballad ("Bother"). The first track, "Get Inside," is a roaring masterpiece of carefully modulated fury. Though it's heavy as hell, make no mistake: Stone Sour is not a metal album; the band owes much more to such stripped-down acts as the James Gang and Montrose than it does to metal, old or nü.

Many of today's rock bands are fixated on dirges that give their constipated vocalists plenty of time to explore all the ways one-note howling can be disguised as sincere emotion (we're thinking of Staind, Nickelback, Creed). Stone Sour has raised the stakes for everyone, bringing back genuine singing and riffs that could rip through concrete, and it's refreshing as hell. This is a great band and a great album -- easily among the best hard-rock records of the year.

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