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Stone Sour - Hello, You Bastards (Album Review)

Wednesday, 18 December 2019 Written by Simon Ramsay

Although the average metal fan won’t exactly be in thrall to ‘90s romcom Jerry Maguire, it does contain a quote that’s pertinent here. At the conclusion of his passionately protracted monologue, Renee Zellweger famously tells Tom Cruise “you had me at hello.” Speaking with similar heart about this live offering, Stone Sour guitarist Josh Rand proclaimed, “We're extremely proud of the fact it's 100% live with absolutely no overdubs!”, before needlessly unveiling plenty of details about the release. Josh, you had us at ‘100% live.’

Back in the ‘70s there was a special magic to career defining releases such as Kiss’s ‘Alive’, Thin Lizzy’s ‘Live and Dangerous and UFO’s ‘Strangers in the Night.’ Those thrilling efforts transported us to another time and place, yet it’s also well known the group’s performances were, to a greater or lesser extent, enhanced by studio overdubs.

These days, we’re a lot more clued up. We know what authentic live performances sound like and when backing tapes have been employed to make five people sound like an armada of musicians. As such, it’s immediately obvious that Stone Sour’s first official live release is very much the real deal.  

Recorded in 2017, ‘Hello, You Bastards’ was the result of a happy accident. The US four-piece had initially planned to record a gig further down the road, until their sound guy decided to test the recording equipment at this Reno show first.

Realising that, regardless of the odd fuck up, and possibly thanks to that unintentional fait accompli, he’d captured a fantastic live performance devoid of the tension you often hear when bands know they’re being taped, the decision was made to release this record, warts and all.

Some truly excellent material from their most recent album ‘Hydrograd’ forms the bulk of the set, with Knievel Has Landed a flame thrower of nasty bludgeoning riffs and stare down menace. Taipei Person Allah Tea kicks and punches like a demon toddler and Fabuless melds thrashy breakdowns with the kind of banging chorus the band excel at.  

Whether new diamonds or old gems such as Get Inside, 30 30-150, Absolute Zero or Made of Scars, each body slamming hook is spat, screamed and sung with utter conviction by frontman Corey Taylor and his bandmates. The vocals here—particularly the backing ones—are very rough around the edges, but also give the songs a new feel by unleashing a raw and aggressive edge you don’t get on the recorded versions.

That said, Taylor shines when he isn’t relentlessly headbanging the breath out of his lungs. Stripped to just a clean electric guitar and bare emoting, breakout hit Bother sounds intimate and inclusive as the frontman opens up his palm and wraps the entire audience inside.

Thanks to powerhouse performances, ferociously high energy levels and the reaction of a crowd who’ve been whipped into a delirious frenzy, by the end of this record you actually feel like you’ve been at the gig and are ready to stumble home. This effort gives a great account of a creatively impressive outfit who also know how to deliver on stage. “It's not perfect but neither are we,” claimed Rand. Josh, that’s exactly why it is perfect.

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