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Stone Sour - 'House of Gold & Bones - Part 1' Review

Corey Taylor Gets Ambitious on Dynamic Concept Album

About.com Rating 3.5 Star Rating


stone sour house of gold and bones review

Stone Sour - 'House of Gold & Bones - Part 1'

Photo courtesy Roadrunner.
A bold, bracing record that’s as emotional as it is musically propulsive, House of Gold & Bones - Part 1 represents Stone Sour swinging for the fences. With frontman Corey Taylor’s principal band Slipknot taking some time off in the wake of bassist Paul Gray’s death, Stone Sour have expanded their musical palate and broadened their ambitions, delivering a concept album whose audacity is often thrilling. Though this quartet still work in the realm of hard rock, House of Gold & Bones - Part 1 has a scope that gives it an unmistakable theatrical flair, which ends up working rather seamlessly with this band’s usual sonic assault.

Stone Sour's Heaviest Record

On Stone Sour’s last album, Audio Secrecy, Taylor spoke frankly about the end of one marriage and the beginning of another. At that time, Stone Sour were still considered to be Taylor’s more “mainstream” band in comparison to the fright-mask metal of Slipknot. (Guitarist James Root is also part of both bands.) This simplification of the two groups’ sounds wasn’t all that accurate -- Slipknot could be melodic, and Stone Sour could turn up the intensity when the situation required it -- but on House of Gold & Bones - Part 1, Taylor and his associates have produced their heaviest record, which is tied to an overarching storyline about a lost soul trying to find his equilibrium after a breakup and some general uncertainty about his place in the world. Though the album’s lyrics follow along a similar thematic thread, House of Gold & Bones - Part 1 doesn’t have a plotline. Instead, Taylor pours his heart out on these 11 tracks with a laser-like focus he’s rarely shown. (A second disc will come out next year.)

Familiar Angst With Fresh Anger

To a certain degree, Taylor’s pre-release comments about Part 1’s concept don’t add much to the overall experience of listening to the record. Happily, you don’t need to listen intently to understand what’s happening in the “story.” The truth is that Taylor’s narrator doesn’t sound all that different than Taylor, who for well over a decade has been venting his anger, sorrow and disillusionment in his two well-regarded bands. (And, let us not forget, Stone Sour was actually Taylor’s first band -- Slipknot simply got famous first.) Consequently, Part 1’s rampant angst can occasionally feel formulaic, but more often than not the stirring music that backs up Taylor’s words has such propulsion and authority that his familiar laments resonate with fresh urgency. On “Absolute Zero,” Taylor declares, “The world is stuck in delirium/Man is a four-letter word/It’s really absurd,” and, yeah, he’s moaning about the same things that have plagued sensitive metalheads for a few generations. But the confidence of the hooks is such that, well, Taylor’s words have the ring of timeless truth.

Ballads and Rockers

Audio Secrecy was such a pleasant surprise because it found a band coming into its own, flexing its creative muscles and proving equally adept with ballads and rockers. Part 1 is the next step in Stone Sour’s evolution, moving effortlessly from the string-laden weeper “The Travelers, Pt. 1” to the streamlined arena rock of “Tired,” the divergent tunes tied together by Taylor’s empathetic vocals. If Audio Secrecy unapologetically embraced breakup anthems like “Hesitate,” then Part 1 takes a page from Guns N’ RosesUse Your Illusion-era melodramatic epics on tracks like “Taciturn.” But you can’t dismiss these guys as softies: The album-closing “Last of the Real” and the thrashing “RU486” are superb temper tantrums set to fast, hard, angry music. And Part 1 is sequenced in such a way that over its short 43-minute running time, the dynamic push-pull tension of the album’s different styles and tones enhances the overall concept of a man struggling to find a direction. And unlike the overlong Audio Secrecy, there’s not much fat on this record.

'House of Gold & Bones - Part 1' - Bottom Line

With House of Gold & Bones - Part 1, Stone Sour have put together a taut, bristling collection of rock songs that transcends the usual concept-album clichés: pretentiousness, musical bloat, overly ponderous lyrics. Taylor guides the band across emotional terrain that’s often very rocky, but the passion and pain in his voice quite often makes that journey immensely rewarding. Part 2 will be arriving in 2013, but this disc is satisfying enough that it requires no sequel.

'House of Gold & Bones - Part 1' - Best Tracks:

“Tired” (Purchase/Download)
“Taciturn” (Purchase/Download)
“Last of the Real” (Purchase/Download)
“The Travelers, Pt. 2” (Purchase/Download)
“Influence of a Drowsy God” (Purchase/Download)

Release date – October 23, 2012

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