The album gets underway with the instrumental intro YSIF, which is largely built around a strident chord pattern played on the guitar, but some Japanese-esque melodies swirl around underneath to give the piece a unique feel. The atmospherics build up as the piece moves along and soon explodes into Taipei Person/Allah Tea - the album's first true song. The song is built around a riff that sounds like something a NWOBHM band might have come up with in the early 1980s, and Martucci makes his presence instantly felt with a doomy guitar lead. Taylor mostly uses his clean vocals on Stone Sour's songs, but this one makes use of his rougher edge at times as he barks through the energetic verses, which are backed by some unconventional drumming from Roy Mayorga. Big choruses are often a part of Stone Sour's identity, and there are a few on this album. This one soars with strong melodies, before Martucci launches into his first shredded solo on the album. He is joined in his venture by fellow guitarist Josh Rand, who has been a part of the band since the re-activation in the early 2000s, and he makes a rare appearance on lead guitar here sharing the stage with Martucci. Knievel has Landed is a less interesting number, but opens with a strong bass riff from Chow. There are definitely some strong musical moments throughout the song, with a tough guitar riff that resurfaces often throughout the verses, but the chorus is a little weak for the band's usual standards and this fails to let the song really take off. Some of the rawer moments, like the pre-chorus sections, are a little too much akin to Slipknot's style for my liking which hampers my enjoyment of the song somewhat. The album's title track follows, and showcases some of the band's grunge influences nicely with a raw, booming drum sound and sludgy guitar riffs that make their impact through slow power. While Taylor still sings in his usual anthemic style, and does not adopt the usual drawl that is key to that genre's sound, his strong vocal performance shines through and sits well with the heavier riffing. The song is chorus-less, which works quite well with with the main guitar riffs taking centre stage. The guitar playing throughout is strong too, with another big solo from Martucci towards the end that showcases his shredding style. Song #3 is one of the album's singles, and features soaring melodies and a more accessible overall sound. Fans of the bigger anthems on Come What(ever) May will lap this song up, as it is built around a strong vocal performance from Taylor, with the music purely serving as a backing for the lyrics. The chorus is one of the album's best, with a 1980s stadium rock feel as he belts out the lyrics. A small guitar solo provides the one flash of musical virtuosity in the song, but this is definitely one made for hearing and having the crowd sing along passionately. Despite some heavier riffs, Fabuless is another song that is built around a big chorus that is sure to become a live favourite. Taylor's harsh vocals are brought out more here, and there are some sections that benefit from a large gang vocal choir for extra power. While Stone Sour's songs are mostly slightly lighter than this song in tone, it is good when they break into heavier territory once in a while to give their albums extra weight. The Witness Trees is another slower, grungy song with ringing clean guitar melodies that sit nicely atop a snaking bassline. The chorus sees the song ramp up somewhat, and the melodies are quite strong, but mostly this song has a more restrained tone than most of the rest of the album. There's an expressive solo from Martucci too that works well in the slower context of the song.
Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song is Dumb & So Am I), despite having some really interesting guitar passages, is probably one of the album's least interesting moments. The slower verses have a slightly strange rhythm, but this clashes with the punky energy the rest of the song seems to want to promote. It just comes across as a bad mix, with the song's two elements not really meshing well together. Thank God It's Over is a mid-paced rocker with a great in-your-face guitar riff that moves along at a bouncy pace and acts as a strong backing for Taylor's vocals. Despite the relatively simple nature of the song, it still manages to create a really strong groove that carries the song throughout and gives it a slightly addictive feeling with the consistency of the song's rhythms. St. Marie is a ballad, and has a bit of a country feel with some lap steel provided by Joel Martin which creates a floaty atmosphere throughout as the bands two guitarists strum their acoustic guitars. This is a song which is definitely different to the norm for Stone Sour, but it works really well and Taylor's emotional vocal delivery helps to give the song the band's signature sound. The addition of the lap steel playing really adds a lot here. Most bands would have probably added a subtle piano backing instead, but I like the country feel the lap steel gives the song as the lengthy note slides cut through the mix. Mercy is a strong up tempo rocker and this works well when coming straight after the album's gentlest number. The riffing throughout is also pretty strong here, and contains another very singable chorus that is sure to be a hit live if the band choose to play it. It also contains a pretty technical guitar from Martucci that starts off with some basic shred but moves through a few almost neo-classical licks before a heavier riff kicks in and it is not long before the song's chorus is once again taking centre stage. A piano intro gives the listener the impression that Whiplash Pants might be another slower song, but it is quite the opposite and soon takes off at a fast pace with a hard-hitting riff and vocals from Taylor which boarder on a harsh delivery in places. The decent chorus is the song's most melodic part, but mostly this is a heavier piece which definitely takes a lot from early 2000s nu-metal, with some almost Machine Head-esque parts at times. It is quite an enjoyable song, but the nu-metal elements may put some people off. Friday Knights starts off with a chaotic main riff, but soon descends into a murky verse with chiming clean guitars and a mournful vocal delivery. The song is strange one, with lots of different vibes crammed into a short space of time, but it actually works quite well with a good mix of heavier riffs and more sparse clean sections. It shows that Stone Sour have quite a broad writing style and do not wish to always restrict themselves to the same basic song structures or templates. Somebody Stole my Eyes is another faster, heavier song which definitely takes influence from the more melodic end of Slipknot's more recent material. This works well in this song, and it manages to create quite a bit of power as the album winds down towards the final song. That final song is another slower number, When the Fever Broke, with murky piano lines and a subtle string section that adds colour throughout. Despite this extra instrumentation, it is quite a sparse song but this helps to pack quite an emotional weight and is a great contrast the frantic previous number. Stone Sour have done better ballads in the past, but this is still a fitting end to this varied album. Overall, Hydrograd is a another really enjoyable album from Stone Sour that throws a few new sounds into the band's established template. While it could have done with having a bit of the fat trimmed, as it is probably a couple of songs too long, it still contains plenty of very good songs that will satisfy the band's large fanbase.
The album was released on 30th June 2017 via Roadrunner Records. Below is the band's promotional video for Song #3.