Review Summary: By improving their songwriting and playing to the strengths in their sound, Stone Sour have taken a step in the right direction with the first part in their double concept record.
In the ten years since Stone Sour released their self-titled debut album, the band has evolved their sound, straying further and further away from vocalist Corey Taylor and guitarist Jim Root's other band, Slipknot. On their debut, the nu-metal influence was clearly evident, with Slipknot DJ Sid Wilson even contributing turntables to three tracks. Taylor's screaming and singing were almost exactly in the same vein as as Slipknot's sophomore effort, Iowa
, but the band featured a much more melodic sound that put a lot of emphasis on Taylor's clean vocals and how his melodic voice was beginning to show more prominence than his screams.
After taking a break when Taylor and Root returned to Slipknot, the band returned in 2006 with their sophomore effort Come What(ever) May
, which is the first step they took in moving away from a nu-metal influenced sound and more towards hard rock. The album featured less screams, a lot more singing, and a lot more versatility in the guitar work with solos and not focusing so much on down tuned riffs. This was evident in "Through Glass" (arguably the bands most popular song) and other tracks like "Zzyzx Rd." where Taylor took to the piano to create a heartfelt album closer on top of guitarists Rand and Root's melodic solos. On 2010's Audio Secrecy
, the band stumbled. Part of what made their sound so enjoyable was that they had an accessible hard rock sound but never sacrificed their heavy riffs and always kept a perfect balance between the heavy and melodic sides of their sound. On Secrecy
, they let this aspect go in favor of experimentation with arena rock aspects and as a result watered down their sound. This worked on tracks like the lead single "Say You'l Haunt Me", but the album mostly fell flat in measuring up to the bands previous work.
Fast forward two years and we now have House of Gold & Bones Part 1
, the first in a two part double concept album penned by Taylor. The concept behind the two records is that of a man at a crossroads in his life, having to choose wether to put the past behind him and move on or to let it consume him as he regresses and stagnates. As a result, the music has taken more of a darker turn this time around, and the band have brought back some of the aspects of their sound that made them enjoyable in the first place. Guitarists Josh Rand and Jim Root lay heavy riffs and excellent solos across to the album that are in the same vein as their second album Come What(ever) May
. Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan played all of the bass tracks on the album as the band was without a bassist during the recording sessions for Gold & Bones
, and his bass tone is thick and audible throughout the entire album. Ex-Soulfly drummer Roy Mayorga has proven to be one of the bands most valuable assets since his debut performance with the band on Come What(ever) May
, and his fills and style are perfect for the hard rock sound Stone Sour plays.
The band chose to release both "Gone Sovereign" and "Absolute Zero" together as a joint lead single for the album, and both tracks are a huge improvement over Audio Secrecy
. The former is a a heavy hitting track that proves to be an excellent album opener, with Taylor riding the fast paced riffing with his signature melodic vocals before the song descends into guitarists Rand and Root weaving through each others solos. The latter brings to mind some of the bands earlier work with its huge main riff that spearheads the track and has one of the best choruses on the album. Part of what makes Gold & Bones
such a breath of fresh air for Stone Sour is that they didn't retread Audio Secrecy
but instead took the stronger points of that album and threw them in with the good qualities of their first two records and brought back the heavy riffs. Elsewhere on the album, "RU486" is the closest the band have sounded to Slipknot since "Get Inside", with blistering riffs and drum work with Taylor's screamed vocals taking center stage with a gang-vocal shouted chorus. It is easily the most aggressive track the band has recorded to date and sounds like something that could have easily fit in on Slipknot's latest effort All Hope Is Gone
Even though the band brought back a lot of the aspects of their previous work mixed with some of the qualities of Audio Secrecy
, the songwriting has improved as well. "Taciturn" brings to mind some of the acoustic moments of the previous album, and Taylor's vocals make it and album highlight. Both the Travelers Parts 1 and 2 serve as 'interludes' to the album, with the former being a somber acoustic number and the latter being a heavier one. "Tired" features an Alice In Chains-eque riff that shows off some of the bands homage to classic rock, while "Last of the Real" ends the album on a heavy note, but rather abruptly. In a sense, it leaves you wondering where the band will go from here, although this was most likely intentional due to this being the first of two parts in a double concept album.
I'll admit I didn't go into House of Gold and Bones Part 1
expecting much after being so disappointed with Audio Secrecy
, but with their latest effort Stone Sour prove that they aren't going to take the path of retreading previous works. While the bands first album still reigns as their best work, and while Taylor's screamed vocals have weakened over the years, the band have still managed to make something worthwhile. This is a solid hard rock album, and although its not perfect and still leaves something to be desired, its an absolute step in the right direction. Here's to hoping they maintain this momentum when House of Gold and Bones Part 2
is released early next year.