Welcome to the House of Gold and Bones

I’m doing something a little different today. I’m being selfish with my power to blog. I’m going to be taking a brief moment of your time to talk about my favorite albums.

Three years ago, I was 19 and in college. I was a comfort whore: I was resistant to trying new things, especially other music. But through my roommate I began to expand my catalogue, doubling my music library within a few months. Along the way, I began to look into Corey Taylor’s music. For those who don’t know, he’s one of the more famous musicians in the rock and metal scene for his role as Slipknot’s lead vocalist. As I wasn’t used to metal, I chose to get into his rock band, Stone Sour, first. The albums were good, but you could tell which songs were the big hits.

Then came the House of Gold and Bones.

I like to research the story of a bands through their careers: I’m drawn to how how a person’s personal experiences influences their creative works. Through that I was aware that the House of Gold and Bones was going to be a double concept album. With that in mind, I listened to the music and tried to decode the meaning of what was being presented.

Part 1 is a phenomenal hard rock album. Every song is powerful, there is a great use of callbacks, and it sucks you in. I made guesses as to what the story was, only to be hilariously wrong when I finally sat down and read the short story Taylor wrote. Part 2 is a good album with one of the best finishes I’ve experienced in music, though I think it says something that the best parts of that album are the callbacks of musical themes to part 1 (though they are warranted and brilliant. I keep discovering connections and callbacks despite the fact I’ve listened for years).

To me, the most important thing about those albums isn’t the music: it’s the message. I clung to so many of those lyrics as I struggled through a destructive relationship and finally defined who I was.

The story is about a human who must make a choice. He is unhappy with himself, and he needs to choose if he is going to remain the same or be the person he wants to be. To do that, he needs to make it to the House of Gold and Bones. In this strange world where the sky is a schizophrenic painting of the seasons, others, a ruthless man leads an army of zombies called the numbers, and a shapeshifting lunatic named Allan, are trying to take away the human’s choices and take it for themselves. Only other person, a wizened man named Peckinpah, is concerned for the human’s right to his own choice. It’s a journey of self-exploration: of trying to understand oneself so that one can be happy. This passage from Part 1 where Peckinpah and the human discuss the events of a ceremony called the Conflagration really speaks to me, starting with the human:

“‘So what you’re saying is it’s a celebration of change.’

‘Precisely. But it’s most importantly a celebration of choice because not every choice leads to change.’

‘How can that be?’ I was confused by this statement– actually I was more frustrated than confused. ‘Every choice leads to change, in some way.’

‘True. But choices don’t necessarily lead to change for YOU. Things change for others, surely, but you can always stay the same while things change around you. It’s like stagnation; you never grow if you never decide.'”

That was a powerful message to hear as a boy struggling to decide what he wanted to be. That music and story gave me the courage to make my own choice, and whenever I feel against the wall, I return to those albums for another Conflagration within the little house one can build with the two physical CD cases. Mine is lucky enough to have Taylor’s signature adorning it after meeting him.

If you made it this far, thank you. I usually write about esports, but my superiors said I had room to write about other topics as well, and maybe one of you will become interested in these albums and have it help you as it did me.