Reveiew of House Of Gold & Bones Part 1 by Stone Sour
Stone Sour has released the first half of their ambitious double/concept record entitled ‘House of Gold & Bones Part 1’. The record tells the story of a man named Allen hitting a hurdle of rival emotions in his life, as he must decide whether to remain a child inside forever or finally allow himself to grow into a man. In short the album is a very strong piece of work. Sonically speaking it is a harder edged sound than previous record ‘Audio Secrecy’ and displays improved technical virtuosity across all bases. That being said, it still retains the more radio friendly elements adopted on the last two records so anybody expecting a fresh remake of the bands’ more raw and aggressive eponymous debut will probably be disappointed.
We reviewed the first two tracks ‘Gone Sovereign’ and ‘Absolute Zero’ were released as a dual single back in early August.
Just to re-cap quickly, both are heavier numbers with thundering drum work. ‘Gone Sovereign’ is a faster track somewhat reminiscent of ‘30/30-150’ from the ‘Come What(ever) May’ album, the weakest track on the record in my opinion but not bad and redeemed somewhat by a fantastic shred solo by Jim Root.
‘Absolute Zero’ equally heavy but with the tempo pulled back a bit, chanting vocal samples in the background give it an Eastern vibe. The stronger half of the “single” by quite a margin and boasting a catchy, melodic chorus.
I have to mention ‘Tired’ at some point because it is a triumph for the band in itself. A slow, moody guitar intro with a touch of Alice In Chains to it builds into a mid-tempo number that is predominantly vocal driven. There is a terrific use of violin strings on this one but the band shoots for subtlety and creates a haunting atmosphere with the strings being downplayed and complimenting the clean guitars as well as the terrific chorus vocals rather than dominating the song (as they did in ‘Bother’ which would have benefited having them omitted entirely). Also a swooping guitar solo on the bridge brings the whole thing together.
Lovers of early Stone Sour might find something to smile about with ‘RU486’, with the focus shifting to bass, cymbals and thrash-like riffs this is probably the heaviest and most aggressive track on the record. Corey ditches the clean singing in exchange for the growls and screams he is known for first and foremost (mind you, we’re not quite talking Slipknot territory here). Another point of interest would be the use of gang vocals in the choruses, might be a first for Stone Sour unless my memory is failing me. Anyways, great song!
Now it wouldn’t be a true Stone Sour album without some balladry and while there is less of it than the previous album, it is still present and equally strong! ‘The Travelers – Part 1’ is predominantly acoustic with some bluesy electric guitar peppered throughout, synths and violin strings make a return to add some chill but again they are used sparingly and effectively (seriously, listen to the demo version of ‘Bother’ on youtube, no violins and SO much better). Needless to say Corey displays his voice’s softer side, nothing new but it hasn’t lost its’ impact.
‘Taciturn’ starts out in a similar vein with nothing but acoustic guitar and piano keys to accompany Corey’s desperate vocals but by the time the second chorus comes in it descends into a full rock-ballad complete with sing-a-long chorus. This one could’ve been ripped straight off ‘Audio Secrecy’, which isn’t a bad thing.
‘Influence Of A Drowsey God’ is another mid-tempo number, opening with a cool little piano melody before the rest of the band drops it back in to more familiar territory. Another vocal driven song with soaring choruses, definitely worth a listen.
‘Last Of The Real’ opens with ominous bass chugs and moves into another aggressive rock number with a thumping drum beat. More growls and cursing but balanced with clean singing give this one a taste of classic Stone Sour, a merge of the first two records. Over almost as quickly as it starts but a powerful punchy finish to a solid hard rock album.
Not breaking any major boundaries with innovation nor branching into totally new musical territory but it consolidates and expands on all the band’s existing strengths. If you liked the last two records then I’ll be surprised if you don’t find something to enjoy about this.
Review by Al Westlake