Review Summary: The sound of a potential realized
After months of anticipation following House of Gold & Bones Part 1
, which was surprisingly cohesive and mature for Stone Sour, we finally have the other side of the coin. Part 2
is the second half and conclusion of the bands epic double album as well as the conclusion of the story penned by vocalist Corey Taylor. The album feels like a natural continuation of its predecessor, but it also has much that sets it apart from that album or any of their discography for that matter.
The abrupt ending of "Last of the Real" from Part 1
makes a lot more sense now that we hear Part 2
. "Red City" begins the album on a mellow note, and proves to be a track the band have never done before up until now. The haunting piano melody combined with Taylor's vocals immediately set the tone for the rest of the album, which is a lot darker than Part 1
. The song takes its time, building over a creeping bassline and Taylor's melodic vocals before it suddenly explodes into one of the most intense heavy sections the band has ever written that features some of Taylor's best screams since the early Slipknot days. Its easily one of the best songs on the album.
Musically, Part 2
is their most experimental as well as their most technical album to date. "Black John" has a huge main riff while "Sadist" establishes a perfect setting in the verses with Skidrow bassist Rachel Bolan taking center stage while Jim Root and Josh Rand weave through their dark melodic riffs, giving Taylor the perfect backdrop to tell his story through the lyrics. "Stalemate" is one of the highlights of the album that has some of the most technical riffing on Part 2
, while "The Uncanny Valley" makes an excellent use of acoustic guitars to create an atmosphere in the verses. If "Tired" off of Part 1
was the band paying homage to classic rock, then "Gravesend" is the band doing so on Part 2
, but with a much heavier flair featuring riffs that have an almost sludgy feel to them before Taylor comes out of his visceral screams for the huge chorus. At every point on this album, the band prove again and again that they are finally coming into their own and are more than just a side project.
As a vocalist, Corey Taylor has had his fair share of poor and excellent vocal performances between his two bands. His performance on Part 1
, however, was one of his best to date. Well past his days of being able to scream as well as he did int he early Slipknot days, he has developed a deep growling style of screaming that he first tried on Slipknot's 2008 effort All Hope Is Gone
and has since stuck with. Here, this works best on tracks like "Red City" and "Gravesend", two of the most intense tracks on the album. His real strength is in his melodic vocals, which have been improving since the bands 2006 effort Come What(ever) May
. Here, his singing his excellent on tracks like "82", "Sadist", and the title track. The lyrics are a continuation of Part 1
and conclude the concept album, with the ending cleverly being left open to interpretation.
As you listen to Part 2
, you'll find that there are several moments here that will harken back to Part 1
. Wether it be a vocal melody or a riff, the band put reprises of Part 1
within Part 2
to bring both parts together as they are meant to flow as one continuous 23 track album. For example, lead single "Do Me A Favor" reprises the vocal melody of "A Rumor of Skin", epic ballad "The Conflagration" reprises vocal melodies from both parts of "The Travelers", and the title track reprises riffs and vocal melodies from both "Gone Sovereign" and "Absolute Zero" with the album even ending in the same way it began on Part 1
. These moments really bring all of the tracks together and are another reason why this concept album succeeds as well as it does.
On House of Gold & Bones Part 2
, Stone Sour shatter all expectations and have brought forth the best offering in their career. Combined with Part 1
, this double concept album is a defining moment for the band, as they have matured their songwriting and are doing so much more than just writing solid rock songs that gain easy airplay like on their last two outings. After the horrid album that was Audio Secrecy
, it really is nice to hear them come back with such a solid and remarkable body of work with Gold & Bones
. This double album makes me wonder where they will go from here because of how surprisingly good it is for them, and one can only hope that this newfound maturity will carry over into their future work.