Formed in 92', Stone Sour would grow to become high up in the metal music ranks with the likes of Korn, Slipknot, Lamb Of God and so on. Along with many headlining tours and singles, they were doing very well for having only 3 full-length albums out at the time. These double-album releases, I feel, just send them over the top. On top of that, they pulled what I called a "Coheed And Cambria" and released a graphic novel to go with these records. Too cool.
This double release concept/journey is entitled "House Of Gold And Bones". As far the concept/story behind this double album is concerned, it's a bit tricky to explain, so you'll just have to buy the record along with the graphic novel to understand it.
I's like to take this time to study these two releases, so please, lend me your eyes for a few.
Stone Sour on these albums are Corey Taylor: vocals, Josh Rand: guitar, James Root: guitar, Roy Mayorga: drums, and Rachel Bolan: bass.
1) Gone Sovereign: I love the way this song/album starts, with that "volume up" effect. It's like everyone is when they hear a good song on the radio, they turn it up to give it a better listen and to sing along. The opening riffs are strong and pull you right in and Corey starts off with these bitter, but sweetly sung lyrics "No one's laughing now, no one's laughing now. I'm sullen and sated and you can't put a price on me". As the song continues, it builds up and comes to a sudden stop. Then BAM! Whirling drum fill from Roy and the track takes on double the speed and just blows you away! So heavy is the guitars feel and with a bashing drum and bass guitar sound to give it that solid bang right where it need to be. It even feels like guitar solo comes out of nowhere, explodes, and disappears just as fast. What a great. Starting of with a bang!
2) Absolute Zero: This one starts off with a single bar of a filtered guitar, and takes off with that exact, fully head-bangable riff on high distortion. It's almost impossible to avoid some sort of head bobbing motion with hearing this song. The simple, but pounding, drum beat really helps here. It's a good example where less really is more behind a drum kit. One of my favorite lyrics off this track is pre-chorus where he states "I can bleed if I want to bleed. I can fail if I feel the need". These are powerful words to me. Repeating them to myself, I feel like I have control over my own life, control over my own emotions. It's quite empowering.
3) A Rumor Of Skin: Here seems to be the cries of a man that's tired of himself and tired of the hate coming from an unnamed other. He realizes his own faults, but gets more than enough of it slammed into his face by this unnamed other. Nothing tires a man more than that; realizing his mistakes, but having to relive them every waking moment. The music accompanying these deep words help convey said message with deep, angry vibes blasting to hit you right in the chest. Great track.
4) The Travelers, Pt. 1: Not a very long track, but in my opinion, one of the deeper tracks. It seems to talk of the same man (a.k.a. The Human) lost and alone. The heartfelt acoustic guitars in the back really get to you. Soft and gentle to really help you feel the pain and sorrow.
5) Tired: The story continues with the expression that The Human is confused and "tired" as the title states. Not nessesarily "tired" in the same sense as stated in "A Rumor Of Skin", but still tired of his situation in general. The tone/sound of this song is more...open. Not really sure how else to explain it. More harmony and melody perhaps? Either way, the tone of Coreys voice gives off a sort of pleading vibe. One asking for all this to stop, asking why he is where he is. This is a song about pain; physical and mental. Powerful track indeed. Give it a listen.
6) RU486: This here is one of the more brutally powerful songs on this album. Intense tones blasting from the guitars of Josh and James, and a brutally strong backbone from Roy and Rachel. Such power and aggression! "RU486" meaning is still unknown to me. All I know is that it is whispered into The Humans' ear which in turn confuses him. Aside from that, this is one powerful track. Brutal!
7) My Name Is Allen: A song with a hazy meaning behind it, unless you've gotten to read the graphic novel. This "Allen" character seems to, basically, be the mirror image of The Human. Why he exists or how? Not sure, honestly. Story book aside, it's a very good track, one you can really sing along to. Not much can really be said about this track except that it is genuinely well written and a fine display of great musicianship. This track was made more to help explain a turn of events within the story line. Great track though.
8) Taciturn: A soft, gentle beginning to this song really helps round out this well written record, along with the help of "The Travelers, Pt. 1". This track is not only gentle to begin with, but with a strong ending. Midway through this song, the distortion kicks in and takes us for a ride, especially with that moving guitar solo! You've gotta love how this track ends. It finishes with the exact riff that this song started with, and it hits just the right spot.
9) Influence Of A Drowsy God: Another well constructed track that serves as a story-telling medium. It's a tad different from the rest, tonally. It has a bit of a lag feel to the music, sluggish even, like it's trying to describe a struggle from The Human. Tired and confused, but pushing forward. It shows us the true strength of man when such circumstances arise.
10) The Travelers, Pt. 2: A continuation of...you guessed it, "The Travelers, Pt. 1". Same tone as Part 1, but with more of a tired feel to it to compliment the character and his exhausted state. It helps move this story and make it more real for the listener/reader.
11) Last Of The Real: Another tough, gritty song from this album, and what a way to finish Part 1! I love the opening lyrics "Where's my crucifix?! Where are my cigarettes?! This hypodermic melancholy is not enough!" This song seems to possibly express The Humans' frustration from this character due to his crazy journey. Again, story aside, a very intense tune to head-bang and scream along to. Great, chunky tone from those strings and a great punch out of those drums to really make this song loud and massive. It also has a bit of a "doom" feel to it. Kind of like a "back off, or else" kind of feel. Great feel! What a finish to Part 1.
I won't spend too much time on a finishing statement just yet. The only thing I will say is that this story is a bit complex, but still a great record/novel behind it.
Let's continue with Part 2, shall we?
1) Red City: This track has a little bit of everything Stone Sour has to offer: soft melodic vocal to brutal screams, melodic riffs to heavily distorted guitars, heavy drumming, deep rumbling bass, a touch of electronics/sampling, and other instrumentation. It starts simple with repetative notes from a piano, followed by drums with a slow, creeping-up-on-you feel. Guitars and bass then come in to really kick things up. It ends with a brutal vocal track, enough to scare you. What a track.
2) Black John: Black John is the character that asks The Human "RU486?", just to give you an idea of who this is to begin with. He is basically the leader of a giant herd of zombie-like creatures (a.k.a. the Numbers). By this time in the story, if I'm not mistaken, The Human is surrounded by the Numbers and Black John, but is tired of running. Story aside, this is a one of those tunes to really sing along to. Great vibe with an edge, pronounced chorus, and a nice open feel (as far as this record gets). It's just a great song that brings this album together.
3) Sadist: Here's an eerie tune to creep you out nice and good. Besides the slow tempo riffs and crawling airy feel in the background, it's just another display of sweet musicianship. They can adapt with what they're given. They are a bit of a melting pot now that I think of it! Uncanny at emotionally charged music such as this.
4) Peckinpah: Another quick back-story. Peckinpah is a character that comes out of nowhere and joins The Human to Red City and knows a bit of information that he is interested in. The song is a little tricky to describe, because it has various elements all with in it. It has a "journey continued", mysterious, revelation discovered, and straight up pounding feel to it. This is one tricky, but audibly pleasing tune. It's something you don't hear every day. Very neat.
5) Stalemate: This is one of my favorite tracks off of this album. I don't know if it's the lyrics and how they just flow off the tongue, or the music and the feel of it, or the mixture of it all. It's got such an open feel to it that you can imagine this song being performed loud and strong live. You gotta love that chorus; and that solo...what a great solo. Hands down one of my over-all favorite Stone Sour songs.
6) Gravesend: This is an interesting track. It has creepy, but exposed feels to it. It moves slowly and heavily to make that distortion really hit you square in the chest. This track seems to talk about The Humans journey throughout his life; giving us some background on him almost. Giving us a glimpse at his struggles throughout. This song has great power. Don't overlook it.
7) '82: This song has plain and simple classic heavy metal written all over it. Tough/simple cords, straight forward drum beats and clean vocals that soar. It hits you with great melodies, vocal harmonies, and a hard hitting breakdown. Don't you miss that kind of heavy metal?? You don't hear this anymore, it almost seems to have died. Thank goodness for Stone Sour and bands alike that keep the good, raw, and real music alive.
8) The Uncanny Valley: The one thing that truly stands out to me is that heart-warming harmony that repeats throughout this track . It's so simple, but yet, so effective. Aside from that, it's a pretty chill tune...as far as Stone Sours ' metal tracks get. Very vibrant, loud, and even explosive. This song relaxes me every time I hear it for some reason. The power of this song cannot be overstated.
9) Blue Smoke: This is basically a prelude to the song to come, but we cannot forget to examine what we have here. It starts similarly to "Red City", but this is more low key and musically vague, almost lime a whisper. The vocals are clean and audible, but almost like a monologue too. Simple, but it braces you for the coming storm.
10) Do Me A Favor: A punch in the face is what you get as soon as this song starts. Explosive and audibly intense! So much power coming right at you and you can't help but head-bang and/or jump like crazy. There's so much happening in here that you find yourself grinning from ear to ear at the genius and complexity of it all. On top of this, it has elements of which were present in "A Rumor Of Skin" from HoGaB Pt. 1. You cannot help but give mad props to the creativeness of this one song and how it all ties together.
11) The Conflagration: I can only describe this as the aftermath of the storm that just past. A tad toned down, but still strong in other ways. Very open and almost colorful(?). Like seeing past a heavy fog that lay over you for a while. Also, in this track are reminants of the song "The Travelers, Pt. 1", also from HoGaB Pt. 1. You really see everything finalize and come together in the end.
12) The House Of Gold And Bones: Finally, the titles track. It begins very similarly to the way this whole journey started in "Gone Sovereign", strong and with a bang. Aside from the intro, there are not-so-subtle elements throughout the song that remind you of the way it all began. Here and there, you'll hear parts of the song that you will stop and think, "Have I heard this before?" Yes, you have. What a song! You finally hear the lyrics "House of gold and bones" sung as well! It all finishes in a powerful explosion and exits in that small tones that "Gone Sovereign" began in to make the circle complete and finished.
It seems that every Stone Sour record that is released seems to get heavier and heavier, and these two are no exception! The power grows and grows and it doesn't stop! Wow!
If you're wondering how to do or compose a double-album, listen to these releases. It tells a story that can get you thinking, lot's of action and mystery, and all the answers come together and converge in the very end. You cannot go wrong with these albums. Lots of power, an occasional soft, toned down song to add heart and melody. It's an all out war and it will blow your mind. This is how it's done!