We’re going to address the elephant in the room.
If you’ve followed the saga of Scott Stapp in the last few years, you’re up to speed; if you haven’t, it’s fine because Stapp wrote a cryptic tell-all into the lyrics of each song on The Madness, the new Art of Anarchy CD releasing 3/24/17.
Art of Anarchy was started by brothers Jon (guitar) and Vince (drums) Votta, along with former Guns ‘N Roses guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal and Disturbed bassist John Moyer. Though Scott Weiland denied being a member of the band, he laid vocals and wrote much of the lyrical content of AOA’s first eponymous release. For their sophomore album, AOA tapped Scott Stapp, best known as the vocalist and frontman for Creed, to take up the cross. Unlike his predecessor, he’s proud to be the new singer for supergroup Art of Anarchy. Of the collaboration, Stapp states, “It’s Disturbed meets Guns N’ Roses meets Creed.” I couldn’t disagree more. Each artist brings with them individual talents and influences that blend so well, the only sound that truly stands out is Scott Stapp resurrecting his career.
The first track, “Echo of a Scream” is slightly eerie as Stapp comes out of the gate channeling Weiland in tone and attitude. With a sing-and-whisper delivery, he croons right up to “I’m just imitating the man they want me to be,” before breaking into his familiar timbre, owning the song in his own right. If this is an analogy for The Madness, it’s well played. Have any Creed fan listen to “No Surrender” and “A Light In Me” and they’re going to hear Creed. There’s no way around it. Stapp has a definitive voice, and it’s for this reason I’m going to give him a little latitude as he navigates his post-Creed endeavor, experimenting with his vocals in songs such as “1000 Degrees” and “Dancing With The Devil.” Highlights are first release “The Madness” and “Somber.” Prose is carefully constructed and woven into some radio-ready melodies with great chord progressions. “Somber” damn near breaks me each time I play it, with Stapp’s vulnerability more natural than in the requisite ballad and mea culpa, “Changed Man.”
If you’re like me, you’re going to listen to The Madness to hear Stapp, and that’s okay. Listen again, and you’re going to recognize Moyer’s driving bass line and some signature Bumblefoot riffs. When you listen a third time, it all clicks. You’ll hear a supergroup that’s done a super job of bringing their collective strengths to the table to produce a cohesive sound. There’s no denying the addition of Stapp has changed the sound, perhaps even the direction of Art Of Anarchy. Whether or not Stapp is truly back remains to be seen. If his musical contributions, lyrically and spiritually, are any indication, the answer is yes, the kid may very well be fine.
Art of Anarchy is releasing 3/24/17 and is available for download.