Just like most of Stone Sour’s career, they’ve always been experimental with every project they have done, and they aren’t afraid to bring it to the table. This is no exception with their latest double album , House of Gold and Bones Part 1 + 2.
I love a concept album when I hear one, and HOGAB is definitely one of them. HOGAB is a concept based on the story of a man called Zero, finding himself in a world where he has to make decisions and on the way, there are many barriers and to pass those barriers , he has to find a way. Sadly, those who have bought the albums through iTunes, do not have the privilege of reading the story written by Front man, Corey Taylor , which are two booklets that are tucked in to the physical albums. Another disadvantage to not having the physical copies, is that you won’t be able to make an actual house out of the albums.This is a great marketing tool to get people to buy physical albums in a generation of internet downloads.
Reading the story, makes listening to the album easier to understand, and as well as getting those “FUCK” moments when you finally understand what is going on. There’s another thing though, even if you have not read the story, you will understand it in the musical and creative stance as it connects so well with songs that makes you have goosebumps when you experience those moments.
Musically, the first part of the album, is the set up of the story, part one opens with Gone Sovereign that leads straight in to Absolute Zero. Both songs displays angst and introduction of the character, with the fast pace of guitar and drums, especially in Gone Sovereign. It is a pure rock song, that has been shown heavily as part of live set list of the band, showing the audience pumping their fists in the chorus.
As the song leads smoothly in to Absolute Zero, you wouldn’t have noticed it with the subtle drumming in the background but it is enough to know that it’s the second track. This song has its funny moments , lyric wise , cleverly shown in the form of “Man is a four-letter word, it’s really absurd” For those who know Taylor and Root’s other band, they would know that they have a song named after those certain words.As part 1 gets darker as each song goes on, you begin to understand what is going on with especially with an introduction to a number of characters in the story. Slower songs such as Taciturn , shows Taylor his full potential reaching full vocals that you don’t often see in other records, the song starts with a build up acoustically, which crashes back to earth with many instruments, and catches you offguard. A rumor of skin, shows the catchiness of Mayorga’s drumming and how it flows with the song.
Part 1 ends with Last of the real, the build up for the 2nd part. Part 1 is an album that many of Stone Sour’s fans can associate with and relate to, the band set the bar high for part 1 and you begin to wonder how they can go from there.
Part 2 , is the conclusion to the story, and although it takes a couple of listens (5 to get more in to it, 10 to notice every little thing that is part of the story), it shows the highly creativity that this band has and the hard work that has been put in to it. It may surprise others unexpectedly with a wide range of musical styles, perhaps to show the tension and unease with the music. It’s easy to think that Stone Sour are being lazy for using similar lyrics and melodies in Part 2, however that is hardly the case. You have to understand that this more than just listening to the music, it’s to understand what is going on, to understand the message that this album brings to your ears. Songs in part 2 brings it back to part 1, the similarities showing that the characters are speaking to eachother and the progress of Zero in the story. It brings an intensity to both of the albums.
The music speaks for itself, especially in Do me a favor, which is a reply to A rumor of skin with Taylor singing out “I don’t mind my own self-loathing/And I don’t need help from you/I know I’m lonely/But what am I supposed to do?” in A rumor of skin to “I don’t mind my old, Dead story/And I don’t want to lie to you/I know my glory/Will never be the same as truth” Perhaps to show a drastic change of choices with lyrics. With every listen, there will always be something that is missed out, you will find something new when you thought you found every clue. Each song digs deeper to the characters as you follow the story, a personal favourite of mine is Sadist, where you hear the seduction in Taylor’s voice, as he leads you in , trying to tempt you to make the wrong decisions. Sadist is just that, and if you read the story, you will discover exactly what it means.
The most impressive song that reveals everything, and still leaves a question in the end, is The Conflagration which in some ways is also a reply to the first track of Part 2, Red City. The Conflagration is an epic track with full of strings, and pianos and a massive build up overall, probably to show a sense of victories and fights, and gives the listener inspiration and motivation just from listening to this one song.
Part 2 ends with the title track and it leads you think what happened to the character, Zero. Did he make it? Did he finally find a way? Sadly, there won’t be a Part 3 as Corey Taylor once said in an interview, but that’s okay, it’s always good to leave the story on a high.
This is Stone Stour’s most creative work to date, musically and lyrically. Taylor said that the band will be doing a double date tour for both albums next year with full theatrics, so who knows what will happen.
There is also a 4 part comic book series based on the story, that you can grab here
The future is bright with Stone Sour.