HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

STONE SOUR - Audio Secrecy
(Roadrunner)

There's an increased heaviness and legitimacy that has befallen Corey and Jim and Stone Sour, given the death of Paul Gray and the always fragile nature of Slipknot slipping further into cracked crystal. Not sure if that's wahy, but Audio Secrecy comes off as intensely mature, quite heavy, ambitious, no surprise given the involvement of Nick Raskulinecz as producer. Sure there's the usual post-nu-smeariness and poignancy that has been caused by Nickelback, but there's also riffs that sound like really commercial Swedish death - it almost sounds like the creeping back of Soulfly and Machine Head to legitimacy. Yet Cory sings like an FM radio rock star, like Coby Dick even, which nonetheless is acceptable given the contours of these songs - ballad 'Dying', despite a maudlin chorus, wins the day through the uncommon chord changes of the verse (unfortunately, not so for later ballad 'Hesitate'), and 'Nylon 6/6' is loaded up with exotic, proggy, neo-metal madness while still remaining accessible. Late in the sequence, 'Miracles' is another moody, worthy ballad, and 'Pieces' continues the captivating Floyd vibe quietly being built behind the aggressive radio metal elsewhere postured and posited. Once it's wound down, a quiet respect has been built, with the recurring and dismaying corporate rock melodies to be expected from this band turning out to be methodically outnumbered by the many moments of elevated writing, much of it, surprisingly, applied to the anthemic balladic structures, in event, rescuing the hardest songs to pull off.
Rating 7.5

EMERGENCY GATE - The Nemesis Construct
(Twilight Zone)

Wow, a real mess of signals falls out of this strangely drifted band, drifted because one wonders if melodic neo-thrash like this has a place anymore. To explain, Germany's Emergency Gate (all six of them!) play modern, melodic thrash that sounds quite synthetic, due to the computer-y production as well as pervasive keyboard parts that would make sense, I suppose, to a Scar Symmetry, In Flames, Dark Tranquillity or Mercenary fan. Tom Englund from Evergrey guests, and that's really the most personality I hear on this thing, or rather, there have been so many albums that have tread this hybrid territory before, neither the connecting melodic choruses, the spots of clean singing, or all that dance/rave texturing are a shock any more. Competent, but alas, non-essential except to the exhaustive collector of Scando melodic death.
Rating 5.5

Hard Reviews Page 5