REVIEW: Stone Sour – House Of Gold And Bones – Part 1

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Artist: Stone Sour
Album: “House of Gold and Bones Part 1”
Genre: Alt-metal, hard rock
Label: Roadrunner

Stone Sour’s House of Gold and Bones (Part 1) has all the hallmarks of an event, but somehow it feels like a non-event. It’s a fine record, but not in a showy or extravagant way – rather, its cutting, clinical precision is what gives it an air of accomplishment, neither excessive nor modest but dead on the mark. It’s as if the band conceived of each song in its entirety and moulded them carefully together to create something just as proficient in its full form. It is both stirring and profound, harbouring light beneath its darker moments and backhanded bile for all its emotiveness.

The mixture of tracks is particularly commendable. There are plenty of riled, aggressive anthems designed to raise the hackles and get a crowd going, but there are a surprising number of more wounded, heartfelt, even intimate tracks here. They contrast with the raucous splendour of the solos and offer a more human series of moments to counteract the will and domination of the heavier songs. Leading the fray, Corey Taylor’s vocals are as sharp and precise as the band’s music. He has the power to enliven a faster track, instil mayhem and malevolence in the surging guitars, and yet possesses a kind of broken frailty that brings real pathos to the slower moments. Best of all, House of Gold and Bones seems to be a grower, with repeated listening doing much to unveil its hidden glories.

The opening group of tracks set a temperamental, fearsome pace in motion. “Gone Sovereign” is ballsy and confrontational, with an oddly jubilant feel to its overture. The chorus spurs the song to come into its own, adding a gnarly toughness with the upsurge in tempo. This is in turn enhanced by the solos, which are drastic and wilful and give the song a real spark. “Absolute Zero” turns things up a notch again. The breakdowns are slick and cutting, with an enthusiastic beat and more excellent guitar work adding much to its fervour and appeal. It’s effective, commanding rock, rooting itself firmly in the conscience and building relentlessly to its conclusion. “A Rumor of Skin” can sound forced, but it’s forced in the most wonderful of ways. It’s likeable and invigorating, zealous in its pursuit of power and potential. The lyrics here are particularly striking – there’s a kind of reckless abandon to Taylor’s singing, with the dominance of the music serenading his aggressive resolutions with twisted glory. What’s perhaps most surprising about this opening series of tracks however is how generic they tend to sound. They’re easily accessible, widely engaging, and have a distinctively popular appeal. The balance of power and meaning gives them an edge, which the band capitalise on with their slower tracks.

The two-part “The Travelers” is a tender and heartfelt odyssey. Both parts are simplistic in sound and very stark for their vulnerability. The first part sounds quite saddened at times, yet it’s neither defeatist nor deadpan. The guitar and words evoke a light spark of hopefulness and Taylor never sounds quite resigned. The music ponders amiably until it fades out on a series of piercing whispers and harangued strings. The second part picks up several tracks later, immediately revoking the tone. This part is strangled and put upon, bearing some burdensome weight that it struggles angrily to shuffle off. Its piano work is intricate; the instrument a sullen, grim presence to underline the difficulties derided in the words. “Taciturn” is also worthy of mention. Taylor is alone and emotive, the need and pleading in his voice both tangible and affecting. The instrumentation is reserved at first, though as the vocals become increasingly harrowed, it erupts in something raspier, demanding, and demonstrative. The solo in particular is redolent of the sentiment in the lyrics, and as the song fades out the music retreats into a calm, methodical sway, accompanying Taylor with dignified grace.

House of Gold and Bones may be the finest thing Stone Sour have done, particularly if the second part (due early next year) lives up to the fine precedent set by this one. A consuming and compelling work, it deserves to rank among the year’s best.

SCORE: 9/10
Review written by Grace Duffy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-XQD8faKGaA

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  • Drew

    Great review and a fantastic album.

  • rob

    OMFG i love it its just so perfect and beautiful in every asspect. corey your are the greatest thing that music has ever offered to the ears of this green earth. you never fail when it comes to your imagination and you pour every partical of your heart and soul into your music and im forever and eternally grateful for your gorgeous lyrics and most of all your glorious talent… my heart and soul is truly forever yours…

  • Lance

    Really good album,my personal favorites are a rumor of skin and ru486,but theres a nice mix for everyone.hell,even my wife enjoyed,though she has trouble seperating corey from slipknot.i met the guys a few years back and they could not have been nicer,so i will always be a fan.great work guys!

  • Red Dogg44

    Great album with Pink Floyd undertones. Could this be the 2nd half of the story? Just a thought.