Sound — 9
With the review of Stone Sour's previous release I had noted the history of the band, being the actual precursor to Slipknot, with Corey Taylor and Jim Root having been members before they ever joined Slipknot. Since 2002 when they re-joined the band it has really taken on a life of its own and the sound has developed and grown into what it is today. Since the release of "Part 1" of "House Of Gold & Bones" the band has found a replacement for bassist Shawn Economaki in Johny Chow. Rachel Bolan still handled the bass parts for the album, I'm guessing because Johny Chow hasn't yet had time to learn the songs or Rachel had already tracked the bass parts for the album by the time Johny Chow came aboard. This is the second part of the double concept album "House Of Gold & Bones", with an accompany comic to be released soon. The album has 12 tracks and clocks in at just over 50 minutes. The accompanying comic series will have the release of the first issue by Dark Horse Comics in just a few short days on April 17th. The first single from the album, "Do Me A Favor" was released on Stone Sour's YouTube channel on February 8th and was released digitally on February 12th. On March 29th, the track "Gravesend" was premiered on Rolling Stone Magazine's website as the second single from the album.
The second installment of "House Of Gold & Bones" finds the band stretching their musical muscles a little bit more than on the first part. Josh Rand and Jim Root trade off on some great guitar work, while Corey Taylor provides piano on a few tracks in addition to vocal duties. Roy Mayorga handles drums as well as synthesizers and piano on several tracks. Rachel Bolan from Skid Row filled in on bass again on the album, so the first listen to the new bassist, Johny Chow, will be in live performances. In addition there are guest musicians credited for cello, violin and viola for the track "The Conflagaration". There are the expected heavier tracks, ranging from hard rock to alt. Metal, but also there are some more "ballad" type tracks, most notably the track "The Conflagaration". Playing "Part 1" and "Part 2" in succession, you can absolutely hear a large amount of cohesiveness you would expect to hear in a concept album. The guitar solos on the album were masterfully completed, just as you would expect from Jim Root and Josh Rand. Overall I'm finding the first and second installments of this album about equal in my esteem. The biggest difference between the two would be more usage of creepy ambient passages in "Part 2".
Lyrics — 8
Corey Taylor always provides a stellar vocal performance, and this album is no exception. In addition, there are four guest vocalists credited under code names: Stubs, Lady, Truck and Sinner. Corey's vocal delivery on the album ranges from a melancholy and melodic performance on tracks such as "Red City", to a much heavier half-screamed vocal such as on parts of "Black John". In a word, his vocal delivery could be described as dynamic, providing exactly what the song needs at any given time.
The lyrics from the album are exceptional, moving along the story of the concept album and makes me eager to get my hands on the comic. As a sample of some of the lyrics, from the track "Do Me A Favor": "I am an anti everything man/ a scab on the lips of the lord/ my caustic dismissal/ is all I need to get you/ to fall on your sword." Or from the opening track "Red City": "Until the pages of this book are filled with emptiness/ I'm still suspended by a thread/ expecting nothing less/ I feel my kindred little ways/ I know how my story ends/ Like me... / It's not your gift to choose/ I know you're going to lose/ Like me... / The futile circumstance/ you never head a chance/ Like me..." And then from the title track: "Oh this is what it's coming to/ Another water loo/ you wanna put me underground/ cause I'm overused/ giving up that you're pulling me down/ I will make you come unglued." The lyrics do a great job of creating an atmosphere to capture your imagination.
Overall Impression — 9
I've really found a lot of things to enjoy about this album. My favorite song on the album is "Sadist", based on the opening bass riff and then shortly in the song when the quirky arpeggiated guitar riff comes in. Next in my list of favorite tracks would have to be "Black John", "Red City" and "Gravesend". There is a quirky quality to several of the melodies and rhythms in the album that really pull my ears' attention. At this point I'm just really excited to check out the comic when it comes out, especially as the story was written by Corey Taylor. I can't wait to see what Stone Sour does next.