The first in a two-part concept album, House of Gold & Bones finds Stone Sour returning from the relatively subdued sound of their last outing with fire in their belly, bringing some of the aggression back into their sound while still keeping the more nuanced songwriting of Audio Secrecy intact. Following the story of a man who finds himself at a mystical crossroads in his life while on a journey through a kind of self-made perdition, the album follows an arc both thematically and sonically, with the intensity of the songs rising and falling in a way that feels more like a musical than an album of chest-thumping hard rock. This creates a nice dynamic between songs like the driving "My Name Is Allen" and its follow-up, the more contemplative and reflective "Taciturn," creating a palpable shift that comes through both lyrically and musically. A concept album is always a risky proposition, especially in the world of post-grunge, but it feels as if Stone Sour have been invigorated by the possibilities open to them after expanding their sound so much on their previous effort, giving them the confidence to make what is easily their most ambitious record to date. That said, this is an album that can easily be enjoyed for the songs alone, so while you don't necessarily need to sit down with the liner notes (which include an accompanying story written Corey Taylor) to enjoy the album, it does add an extra layer of narrative action that reveals House of Gold & Bones to be an album of surprising depth.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney