Earlier this year, Slipknot fans were shocked when frontman Corey Taylor took off his mask and made a reunion album with his old Iowa bar band, Stone Sour. But what really stunned them was Stone Sourís breakthrough hit, "Bother," a chilling pop ballad featuring the renowned screamer on guitar and vocals accompanied only by a swooning string section. Like all of Taylorís best work, the songís about death and remorse, but who would have expected this guy to go unplugged?
The rest of Stone Sourís first album falls somewhere between the Slipknot and "Bother" extremes: itís a dirty, self-lacerating metal disc that replaces the lust for speed and noise that preoccupies Slipknot with an outstanding batch of brooding hooks. Taylor unleashes all of his abrasive vocal tics on the opening "Get Inside," which finds him at his paranoid best as a lyricist. The band, whose line-up includes Slipknot guitarist James Root, arenít as overpowering as their masked benefactors, but they have plenty of fun with the materialís hick-metal clichés. The last trick up Taylorís sleeve is the anti-establishment spoken-word rant "Omega," which brings the album to a fittingly experimental close.
(Stone Sour perform on Tuesday December 3 at Avalon; call 617-423-NEXT.)