Stone Sour set the bar high with their 'House of Gold & Bones Part 1' disc in 2012, and they don't disappoint with the concept album's conclusion. What listeners get on 'Part 2' is a hard-hitting collection that digs deeper into the storylines that are laid out in the opening disc. And, as Corey Taylor has stated, the second portion plays more like a soundtrack than the first release.

In our exclusive interview with Taylor, the vocalist explained, “It was important to me to make sure that the music and the lyrical content were just as righteous to the project as the story was. So there was a lot of bouncing back and forth on my part, doing rewrites and punching up the short story and making sure that all the beats were there and that it was as exciting as I wanted it to be.”

Exciting is an understatement, as Stone Sour provide a wide range of styles and do most of them well. 'Red City' starts the album on a note some might not expect, as Taylor's vocals are set against minimal piano backing. The song builds in tension setting the pace for what's to come, and by the time that 'Black John' kicks in, we get the Roy Mayorga thunder drumming, Josh Rand and Jim Root guitar work and Taylor aggression we'd hoped for.

Elsewhere on the disc, 'Sadist' offers some of the album's more melancholic moments, but it too rocks in the latter half with some 'Enter Sandman'-esque drumming and riffage. The band's recently released 'Gravesend' provides some brutality as Taylor ruminates about "looking for a ride like a murderer on the road," and '82' gives listeners more of a straight-up rock and roll experience.

For as good as 'Part 2' is early on, the real meat of the disc comes at its conclusion. 'Do Me a Favor' gives audiences the radio-friendly single that kicked off the album, with Root and Rand powering the song along as Taylor provides a character sketch of the "anti-everything man," who is "a scab on the lips of the lord." That's followed by perhaps the album's most impressive song, 'The Conflagration,' an epic piece with strings, pianos and a full-on band jam toward the end. The track also finds Taylor digging deep with the lyrics, "This is where forever gets us / Immoral wishes and oblivion, I can't stay / I don't need the conflagration / I don't need the hate and I don't need you." The disc ends with the title track, which opens with a chant, then kicks into overdrive leaving the listener fully rocked.

You can listen to both 'House of Gold & Bones' discs together to dig deeper into the story, but 'House of Gold & Bones Part 2' stands firmly on its own as one of early 2013's best albums.

4.5 Stars