LIVE: Stone Sour / The Pretty Reckless @ Brixton Academy, London

By Louis Kerry

As far as 21st century metal icons go, there’s not many bigger than Corey Taylor. He’s gained worldwide success in his batshit insane Slipknot outfit, and now his more personal, melodic, but no less in-your-face, project Stone Sour is reaping critical acclaim and fandom. A sold out Brixton Academy proves just that, as the phenomenon surrounding the front-man reaches another new height tonight.

The Pretty Reckless are special guests on the tour, but unfortunately the four piece do very little to impress the sold out crowd. Receiving only a respectable reaction throughout their set, the band’s slice of hard rock/grunge gets lost in the sheer size of the venue. Lead guitarist Ben Philips’ riffs do stand out from the rest of the performance, most notably on sleazy new track ‘Prisoner’, but where the band go wrong is vocalist Taylor Momsen. The singer’s voice reminds you of a modern day Courtney Love as she belts out nostalgic favourite ‘Make Me Wanna Die’, capturing a mesmerising atmosphere for just a moment, however her moody and mysterious on-stage persona completely disconnects fans from the performer.

Heavy metal goliaths Stone Sour waste no time creating a party atmosphere with opener ‘Taipei Person/Allah Tea’, featuring pyrotechnics, a t-shirt cannon and massive riffs. They might be here to promote their new album ‘Hydrograd’ but the whole set feels like a greatest hits show with every song being sung back with full force, notably ‘Say You’ll Haunt Me’ and ‘Tired’.

Drummer Roy Magora has always stood out from the pack and tonight is no different. Whether it’s destroying his drums on the likes of ‘Made of Scars’ or just being his wild self whilst barely taking a moment’s breath, Magora continues to prove that not only is he one of the most high intensity drummers in the metal scene, but one of the most charismatic as well. In a similar vein to Tommy Lee, Magora is never dull to watch.

Taylor engages in the same banter as ever, with the typical “this is my favourite city” and “we are all one big family” etc., but the audience eats it all up, helped by his effortless charm and charisma. He creates some magical moments too; ‘Through Glass’ is as beautiful as ever and ‘Hesitate’ comes packed with emotion. His vocals, guided by the crowd, are more on point than you’ve come to expect from the singer.

Even as the more melodic side of Taylor’s two main ventures, the mosh isn’t as big as expected (at least compared to Korn’s this year). There are slithers of Taylor’s Slipknot personality during the likes old favourites ‘Get Inside’ and ‘Reborn’ but it’s the beauty of Stone Sour’s performance, energy and ultimately their songwriting that has the audience completely captivated throughout the night.

Whilst Corey Taylor has left his mask at home (for now), there’s still plenty of devil horns in the air. It’s a joy to be part of the spectacle of a stage show, a celebration of all things heavy metal and a night of world class musicianship, but also for a room full of fans to experience the roller-coaster of emotions that is Stone Sour, together.