Cast your misconceptions aside; it’s fine, you don’t have to pretend you don’t have them, I know you do. Yes, it’s Scott Stapp (wasn’t he the guy from Creed who ended up out ‘there’, homeless and bankrupt and blah blah blah?) and, yes, it’s Bumblefoot (wasn’t he the guitarist in Guns n’ Roses when they were shit and blah blah blah?) and aren’t they uncool, and all that other bollocks that clouds the judgement and blah blah blah becomes far too important for far too many people…?
And, to quote the immortal… So fucking what?
Because The Madness (Another Century) is a really good rock record. Scott Stapp is a fantastic vocalist, even if he did once give himself a double fist-clench in a gondola. Ron Thal is a great guitarist, even if he was on Chinese Democracy (Geffen)… It might not be fashionable to write really good rock records anymore, though Satan knows why… It might not be fashionable to have a strong, powerful vocals backed by chunky guitars that cascade off into wicked, tumbling solos, though God knows why… But credit to Art of Anarchy for doing just that. For saying, fuck it… we’re just going to write a really good rock record.
The band is a sum of its respective writing parts (John Moyer of Disturbed rounds out the “supergroup” part of the lineup); as you’d expect it’s immaculately produced, but, and I can’t underline this fact enough, it really should be because these are STADIUM ROCK SONGS performed by top-tier talents. Of the highlights ‘1000 Degrees’ is the song Shinedown have never been able to write, ‘Echo Of A Scream’ pounds and stomps, ‘Won’t Let You Down’ is a jagged Creed-esque tune, while the title track and ‘Afterburn’ romp.
Stapp, in particular, excels, with ‘Changed Man’, a song in the vein of a ‘My Sacrifice’, autobiographical and seeing him pouring his heart out to his audience to accept him back.
And they should, because when you bring in Stapp you bring in a distinctive voice that dominates over all of the material. It does mean some of it sounds like Creed, but this should never be a problem. You also get an exceptional craftsman with an innate ability to write and perform vocal lines that very few would even consider. A definite chemistry between him and Thal shines through.
I, for one, am delighted that Scott Stapp is back, mainstream rock music is shy of top-quality vocalists, and I’m delighted that Art of Anarchy have concentrated on bringing the best out of each other in their songs. There are far too few bands releasing big rock songs of the class that litter this album. The only gripe is that there’s nothing anarchic. There is, however, plenty of quality.