“It is not like disc one at all actually,” said Josh Rand, Stone Sour guitarist, in a previous interviewfor The Oswegonian about “House of Gold and Bones, Pt. 2.” “To me it is a darker record than disc one. It is heavier in weight, not so much in aggression like disc one is. I am trying to think of bands to compare it to or just an idea, but I can’t honestly.”
Rand’s statement was proven to be true when “House of Gold and Bones, Pt. 2” was released on Tuesday. This latest Stone Sour album touches the listeners in a more emotionally deep way than “House of Gold and Bones, Pt. 1” due to its darker tone and heavier sound.
The two-part album idea was one that lead singer Corey Taylor came up with last year in to tell a larger story. One album was not enough to accomplish his vision and a comic book has been created to accompany each album, giving the listener another way of experiencing the narrative the band is trying to tell. Taylor has even mentioned the possibility of growing his vision for the story of the two albums with a movie as well.
“House of Gold and Bones, Pt.1” was the best album Stone Sour had released. It brought them a lot of success, with their first two singles off the album “Absolute Zero” and “Gone Sovereign,” peaking at No. 2 on U.S. Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks. The album itself peaked at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hard Rock Chart and U.K. Rock Chart. It also brought the band four Revolver Golden Gods Award nominations: Best Drummer (Roy Mayorga), Best Vocalist (Taylor), Album of the Year (“House of Gold and Bones, Pt.1”) and Best International Performance by the band.
So with all of the success part one brought, it left people wondering if and how Stone Sour could top their own album. They have.
“House of Gold and Bones, Pt.2” Is the strongest music the band has put out so far and probably the best music released in 2013. The twelve-track album is flawless. Taylor brings his narrative full circle in this album, with reminisces of part one heard throughout the album. It helps to truly connect the albums as a whole, instead of separating them as two completely different albums. There are similar guitar riffs, style of lyrics, instrumentals and full verses redone from part one. It is apparent throughout the entire album that a lot of hard work and thought went into creating this album. The band went to great lengths to ensure that the similarities from part one did not sound as though it was copying the same thing again, including completely different songs that help connect the two albums.
The first single off “House of Gold and Bones, Pt.2,” “Do Me a Favor” is a perfect example of this. The thundering drums and energetic guitar riffs that kick off the beginning seconds of the song do make it sound like a Stone Sour song. But once the grungy vocals of Taylor kick in, the song suddenly regains its Stone Sour qualities, while also being something completely new and different. The song is mixed with aggressive vocals and melodic verses. The soul capturing moment, is at the end of “Do Me a Favor” when every aspect of the song transitions to what seems like a completely different song. This is the best example of how the band perfected the connection between the two albums. The transition is so smooth and well done that it still gives off the same tone as the beginning of the song even though it is completely different.
The transition is actually similar to “Rumor of a Skin,” a song off “House of Gold and Bones, Pt.1.” The instrumentals are just about the same, but have a slight difference as they still honor the new sound of “Do Me a Favor.” The lyrics continue to connect the two albums while also expanding the sound. In “A Rumor of Skin,” Taylor sings: “I don’t mind my own self-loathing, and I don’t need help from you. I know I’m lonely, but what am I supposed to do?” Similarly at the end of “Do Me a Favor,” Taylor sings: “I don’t mind my old dead story and I don’t want to lie to you. I know my glory will never be the same as truth. By now my only enemy is you.”
Throughout the two albums the story of an anti-hero is being told and as Rand mentioned, “House of Gold and Bones, Pt.2” expresses the darker side of that story. Not darker in the sense of dark and evil lyrics or death metal like instrumentals, but dark in tone. The first song on the album, “Red City,” demonstrates this with its calm and serious tone. The beginning starts off with Taylor calmly singing and Mayorga playing low tones on a piano. As the song progresses, a low bass comes in as the drums become more powerful and prominent, as well as low, but heavy, guitar riffs.
Stone Sour is more of a melodic band, but considering that many of the members come from a metal background—especially Taylor and guitarist James Root, who are also members of Slipknot—there are always a few songs that Taylor will scream on. “Red City” is one of them, but it is only for a short period of time and about three quarters into the song. Mixing screaming into a slow melody-based song can sometimes hurt the song, but once again Taylor perfects the combination. As the song progresses, it is obvious it is building up to the moment; the piano at the start of the song fades away to heavy riffs and a deep bass. The screaming on this album matches the new darker tone of the album as well, as Taylor changed his screaming to a more demonic sound, rather than the aggressive tone heard on part one.
It is obvious throughout the entire album that the whole band put their heart and soul into the record as every guitar riff, hit of the drum and note meshes flawlessly. Taylor has released many great songs between his two bands and other projects, but “House of Gold and Bones, Pt.2” displays a more mature Taylor who is obviously passionate about every song. He explores the limits of his potential on all twelve songs and provides an emotional depth that is rarely heard. These are not just background noise songs; once “House of Gold and Bones, Pt.2” starts, the strong instrumentals and emotional vocals make you stop and listen.
The album sounds like a story and comes across as one as well. There are smooth transitions song to song and the placement of each song was wisely chosen. Where “House of Gold and Bones, Pt.1” ended, part two picked up almost the mid-point of the story where the hero has hit bottom in accordance with the dark theme of “Red City.” It then moves to the more energetic “Black John,” which acts as the point where the hero continues his journey. The listener works their way through positives and negatives, like in “Gravesend,” and then reaches the beginning of the final battle at “Do Me a Favor.” By the end the listener has made the journey with the hero to finally reach “The House of Gold and Bones.”
Stone Sour has proven that they are not just a Corey Taylor side project. They are a prominent band with a lot of potential and they held nothing back for their two part album experiment. “House of Gold and Bones, Pt.2” was a big step for the band, one where they make something completely different from the first part, yet implemented aspects of it throughout the album to truly connect the two.
Taylor accomplished his goal of creating a whole narrative with the two albums and his simple story idea may just bring the band a few large recognitions down the road. The band will continue to tell this story, as they plan on having a world tour in 2014 where they plan to play both albums—from song one to 23—in a row.
-Published in The Oswegonian