House of Gold and Bones Part 2
Roadrunner Records/Warner Music Australia
Reviewed By Simon Milburn
Not quite the perfect ending
History has shown that double albums can be quite hit and miss when artists announce their intentions to do so. It doesn’t make an ounce of difference either if the albums are released as a set, as a pair at the same time or months apart. The risk is there. That risk is exponentially increased when the phrase “concept album” is also used to describe the forthcoming pair of albums. Some, like Pink Floyd’s legendary The Wall, will go down in history for all the right reasons. Others, such as Metallica’s Load/Reload, Guns ‘n’ Roses’ Use Your Illusion I and II, and more recently Judas Priest’s Nostradamus, will not be remembered for the same reasons.
So what does it mean for Stone Sour when vocalist Corey Taylor proudly announces that their latest efforts will be a two part concept album like The Wall meets Alice in Chains’ Dirt? This is where it gets interesting. Those albums that Taylor mentioned stand on their own merits for many reasons on their own let alone using them as yardsticks for touting your own wares. It’s a big call, I’m sure you’ll agree.
Working again with producer Dave Botrill (Tool, Mudvayne, Staind, silverchair) and Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan once again taking on the studio duties made vacant by the departure of Shawn Economaki, Stone Sour’s House of Gold and Bones Part 2 doesn’t quite hit the same mark set by Part 1. There are a number of reasons for this and it all begins with the slower start to the album via Red City. Its sombre tone soon turns into a slow, heavy dirge which is decent enough. But really, it’s the sign of things to come.
Part 2 contains more slow songs on it over all compared to Part 1. On the surface this isn’t a bad thing. It’s a companion piece, a part of the big picture. But when the songs themselves aren’t as powerful or as memorable as what we have come to expect from Stone Sour over all, well, it’s just not going to measure up. Black John stands tall and is clearly typical Stone Sour – driving rhythms, simple yet infectious riffs and Taylor’s trademark strong vocals that all culminate with a chorus which has “crowd favourite” written all over it.
House of Gold and Bones Part 2 is by no means a bad album at all. It just doesn’t measure up to Part 1, which in turn doesn’t measure up to Come What(ever) May, at least in this reviewer’s eyes. The power of Stalemate cannot be denied but tracks like Gravesend and the unappealing Blue Smoke totally unravel the album. Even the up-beat Do Me a Favor offers little appeal. Perhaps these all play integral parts to the story that this pair of albums are telling but as songs, they are flat. They plod along doing their thing but offer little that engages. Thankfully the title track is a fitting finale. It’s a stomper of a track that reminds of where Stone Sour really hit their stride.
House of Gold and Bones Part 2 is a long stretch. A dozen tracks clocking in at almost 51 minutes and at times it feels like it could be more concise and therefore have a greater impact. It is clearly the weaker of this duo of releases, but in the vision of Taylor and Co., essential in wrapping up the story line that began with Part 1. There is nothing here that fans won’t like. It’s very much what you’d expect from Stone Sour on the whole. It just isn’t as strong as it could be. That is the risk with double albums, and clearly House of Gold and Bones is not adverse to that, either.