The conclusion to last year’s first volume
, House of Gold & Bones - Part 2
is a darker record that mostly sidesteps concept-album pomposity for a smart set of tough tunes. Stone Sour
have now produced two records centered on a man struggling to find his place in the world, but frontman Corey Taylor has crafted that narrative to be universal, speaking to everyone’s hopes and fears. Rather than drowning in self-indulgence or angst, though, Part 2
is a searching and ultimately triumphant album.
An Epic of Emotion
Building off the melodic confidence of Audio Secrecy
, Stone Sour have fashioned an epic with the House of Gold & Bones
discs, refusing to sacrifice the emotional content of their earlier work as their thematic ambitions have grown. It’s to the band’s credit that the listener doesn’t need to know the twists and turns of these albums’ overall storyline to be deeply immersed in the music. (In fact, this reviewer heard House of Gold & Bones
without benefit of liner notes, having to rely solely on the lyrics he could piece together on his own.) On Part 2
, the tumult of Part 1
has only increased, rarely leading to bombast but, instead, a cleansing anger and poignancy that’s as pure as the music.
Raging Against Uncertainty
Less theatrical than the first installment, Part 2
on the whole hits harder. (With that said, however, the spooky chanted intro to the album-closing “The House of Gold & Bones,” which is a callback to “RU846” from Part 1
, does suggest that someone in Stone Sour really loved Bane’s theme music from The Dark Knight Rises
.) Those looking for the softer, sensitive Stone Sour that has been a staple of previous records won’t find much to cling to here, although the half-ballad “Sadist” and the heartbroken “The Conflagration” demonstrate they haven’t abandoned that side of their musical personality. For the most part, Part 2
plumbs the depths from the opening track, “Red City,” which morphs from a mournful piano ballad into a full-throttled screaming fit as Taylor sings in the voice of his main character, surveying the emotional wreckage around him. From there, the album rages against its own uncertainty and anxiety, maybe never finding a happy ending but at least coming to a place of measured contentment.
A Dynamic Journey
Taylor’s other band, Slipknot
, haven’t put out an album since 2008’s All Hope Is Gone
, and it’s tempting to wonder if he has fully focused his musical ideas since then on Stone Sour. (This would be understandable considering the death
of Slipknot member Paul Gray in 2010, which has slowed that group’s activity significantly.) The House of Gold & Bones
albums have been as dynamic as anything Taylor has made in his career, and Part 2
in particular feels like an emotional and musical journey, the varying of tempos and styles giving the 12 songs a sense of motion and exploration. Even the more radio-friendly moments have an extra kick to them: “The Uncanny Valley” may be a somewhat vague sketch of apocalypse and hypocrisy, but the intensity of the guitar melody provides all the urgency the song requires.
Familiar Sentiments Made Fresh
“The more I fight, I stay the same,” Taylor laments in “Stalemate,” a song that, like many on House of Gold & Bones - Part 2
, is about reconciling one’s sense of inadequacy with a hunger to change. Plenty of hard-rock albums have struggled with this sentiment, but the feverishness of Stone Sour’s assault make these familiar complaints seem fresh again. Unquestionably Stone Sour’s boldest works, the House of Gold & Bones
albums will be hard to follow up simply because of their scope and ambition. That’s for Taylor to worry about at a later date. Right now, he can bask in the accomplishment of making a two-disc concept album and not falling flat on his face. Quite the contrary, actually.
'House of Gold & Bones - Part 2' - Best Tracks:
“The Uncanny Valley” (Purchase/Download
“The Conflagration” (Purchase/Download
“Black John” (Purchase/Download
“The House of Gold & Bones” (Purchase/Download
Release date – April 9, 2013
Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publicist. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.