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Album Review: Stone Sour – ‘House of Gold and Bones Part 2’ (2013)

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Release Date: April 9, 2013

Label: Roadrunner Records

Earlier today, Stone Sour streamed the sequel to their chart-topping album “House of Gold and Bones Part 1” (2012). Though “House of Gold and Bones Part 2” won’t officially be released in the States until next week, I am reviewing it now.

It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to an album that has genuinely kept me entertained the whole way through. When I heard HOGAB Pt. 2, I didn’t find myself looking back at the track list every so often, wondering, “Just how many songs are there left?” It is a fantastic album and fitting sequel to Part 1 with its schizophrenic time and style changes, sometimes during single songs.

HOGAB is singer Corey Taylor’s brainchild–two concept albums and a 4-part comic book miniseries about temptation and vice. The music itself is a representation of the conflicts the protagonist, Human, endures. It brings the lyrics to life, and the theme continues through Part 2.

Part 2 starts off with a melancholy piano ballad, “Red City”. It is quite the departure from “Last of the Real,” the final track of Part 1. But during the second track, “Black John,” thrashing drums kick in, signalling the alternative metal tour de force that is the rest of the album. “Sadist” is a slower, groove metal-esque number with chromatic riffs akin to Ozzy’s “Diary of a Madman”.”Peckinpah” is another grooving number, but the next song, “Stalemate,” is one of the highlights of HOGAB 2.

“Stalemate” starts off as an acoustic ballad with piano flourishes, and one assumes that it will be similar to the first track. But suddenly the electric guitars and drums kick in and you wonder what the hell just hit you. You just got your ass kicked and now your neck is broken from headbanging so much. Then there’s a key change to throw you another curveball.

In addition to hard rocking tracks like “’82,” “Do Me A Favor” and “House of Gold and Bones,” HOGAB 2 has its share of powerful ballads. While still heavy, “The Uncanny Valley” and “The Configuration” would do well in mainstream or crossover charts. “The Configuration” reminds me why 80s metal power ballads so great (Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan, who contributed to this album, should know). It would be wise for Stone Sour to release it as a single.

This album showcases why Stone Sour is so great. The lyrics are very relatable, telling tales of adversity, self-doubt and self-empowerment. They actively troll their listeners with their musical epicness and make you go, “what the hell just happened?” You’re not sure what hit you, but it is well worth the bruise you’re left with.

Track Listing:

  1. Red City
  2. Black John
  3. Sadist
  4. Peckinpah
  5. Stalemate
  6. Gravesend
  7. ’82
  8. The Uncanny Valley
  9. Blue Smoke
  10. Do Me A Favor
  11. The Configuration
  12. House of Gold and Bones

Lineup:

Corey Taylor – vocals

James Root – guitar

Josh Rand – guitar

Roy Moyarga – drums

Rachel Bolan – bass

CORRECTION (4/6/13): Human is the protagonist of the story, not Allen.

 

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Why the Grammys Are Clueless About Metal

Unless you’ve been away from the headbanging world, you are aware that Halestorm won the 2013 Grammy for “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance”. This win is historic in the sense that singer Lzzy Hale is the first female singer to ever be nominated for that category and win.

By all means, congrats to Halestorm. They are a hard working band and “Love Bites (So Do I)” is a great song.

But once again, this decision reflects the cluelessness of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS), the head of the Grammys, when it comes to metal.

The hard rock/metal category has undergone several changes.

The first and only “Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance Vocal or Instrumental” Grammy was awarded in 1989. It was expected that Metallica would win. Their album “…And Justice For All” had spawned the hit “One” and was their best-selling album to date.

But non-metal band Jethro Tull won.

Jethro Tull released an ad in Billboard Magazine showing a picture of a flute and the line, “The flute is a real, heavy metal instrument!” Subsequent editions of Metallica’s “…And Justice For All” contained a sticker reading “Grammy Award LOSERS.”

Metallica: Grammy award LOSERS. Photo courtesy frenk tatranky on Flickr.

Metallica: 1989 Grammy award LOSERS. Photo courtesy frenk tatranky on Flickr.

Entertainment Weekly called it one of the biggest upsets in Grammy history.

Due to criticism of the academy, separate hard rock and metal categories were created (though the two genres were recombined into one category for the 2012 awards.)

Here are some more examples of the board’s knowledge:

  • Metallica won the 1991 metal Grammy for their cover of Queen’s “Stone Cold Crazy,” though Queen itself was never nominated.
  • Motörhead won the 2005 metal Grammy for a cover of Metallica’s “Whiplash”.
  • The 2009 metal Grammy was awarded to Judas Priest for a live version of “Dissident Aggressor,” a song originally released in 1977.

Now it’s 2013, and though the board appears to have made progress, there are still changes to be made.

Up against Halestorm were Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Anthrax, Marilyn Manson and Lamb Of God.

Iron Maiden has one Grammy to their legendary name. They are often credited as one of the pioneers of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and are regarded as one of the most successful metal bands of all time.

Anthrax and Megadeth are two of the Big Four of Thrash Metal, which were credited with popularizing the genre. Neither have won a Grammy. Megadeth holds the record for the most Grammy nominations (eleven) in the metal category without a win.

The hard rock/metal category is the still the only one dedicated to this art form and the award is not televised. Eddie Trunk and other metal journalists have complained about the outright disrespect for these musical genres by the board.

Though the talent of all this year’s nominees is unmistakable, Halestorm’s win is reminiscent of actions by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Winners and inductees are not chosen according to a band’s record sales or influence, but according to politics.

While KISS, Deep Purple (“Smoke on the Water”), Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and countless other influential rock and metal bands have yet to be inducted, newer bands like Guns N’ Roses and non-rock acts like Madonna are in there.

With all due respect to Halestorm, the proponents of “Music’s Biggest Night” have a lot of explaining to do.