REVIEW: ART OF ANARCHY – “The Madness”
As fans of music, we are truly spoiled with choice. However in the seemingly limitless, yet evidently ever growing jelly bean bowl that is our music pool, it is almost impossible to know what may be next to come around that bend. It can be equally as frustrating to even try fathom where you may care to begin your search. Even for some of the more experienced navigators, the vast amount of options can be overwhelming. With that said, and as seldom as it may come, on occasion the gift of the choice having been made on our behalf is bestowed upon us. And when that happens, it is undeniable.
There are few pleasures in life for music fans that compare to when a band or artist demands your attention. They reel you in, and just when they have gone and built up the hype, they do something beautiful. They deliver. So how does a band or artist, in this colossal music pool of ours, grab the listeners attention as opposed to another, and then succeed also at the added task of maintaining it? In the case of Art of Anarchy, the band hit the ground running with a few namesakes whom, between them, have sold millions of records, won enough awards to put a muzzle on the La La Land bandwagon and at the heart of it all, have a collective body of work that continues to stand the test of time. Not a bad way to start your band! With their latest album, the excellently produced ‘The Madness’ landing on March 24th, the new voice of anarchy is about to make itself heard. On that note, we proceed with our first name drop.
Formerly of the internationally successful Creed respectfully, vocalist Scott Stapp makes his return to music filling the shoes of the late Scott Weiland, best known for his time and work in Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver. Weiland, whom though his feelings on his part in A.A differed somewhat from other members, was considered the main vocalist for the band, featuring in promo shoots for their self titled debut album and so on. Unlike his predecessor, Stapp immediately makes the position his own, which is all too evident in the records leading single, doubting ones own sanity in “The Madness” as well as its opening track, the primitive and standout “Echo of a Scream” which seems to take an approach to vocals similar to that of the prowess Weiland oozed in his own unique styling. Whether it is found to be coincidence, a tip of the hat to Weiland or we never find out, “Scream” feels like the beginning of a fight as two opponents dance around each other, sizing the other up until finally the first punch lands. In this case, it does so under the title “1’000 Degrees”.
At this point, allow us to delve a little deeper into the dynamics of the band. Though Stapp may front this talented little ensemble, he is also the last member recruited by the band which found its inception through the combined talents of twin brothers Jon and Vince Votta on guitar and drums. The Votta brothers, with their common goal in mind along with some friends in high places, recruited the now ex Guns N’ Roses guitarist Bumblefoot and completed the line up at the time with Disturbed bassist John Moyer. A super-group of sorts, but in truth as was the case with Velvet Revolver, they quickly became (as Anarchy are becoming) their own band respectfully.
Each players own color contributes to the overall picture this record is painting and no member is left by the wayside. The steeped in doubt, selfless yet uncertain “Won’t Let You Down” alongside the plead for mercy and redemption found in “Changed Man” born from the same smouldering pit as the despair in what should be the records next single “Somber”, there is an integrity in both the music and lyrics to these songs too often lost in much of the waste we are fed through radio on that tedious morning commute. It is also a great pleasure that this quality of music and inspired songwriting can be found throughout the record. Musically, it is a pleasure to listen to and if you are a player, a whole lotta fun to jam along to. Lyrically it reaches other depths entirely.
With respect where it is rightly due, as the man gave us more than we can ever thank him for, in this instance there was a distance in the performances from Weiland on the bands last record. A gaping detachment that left a feeling of insincerity after each listen which left a bitter sweet taste. If the artist is disconnected from the songs, it is not so far-fetched to think the listener may just pick up on it. This is not the case with Scott Stapp. The singer admittedly had his down and out moments which seems to have given him a lyrical chopping board of subject matter to work with. Stapp feels directly connected to and invested in his performance, giving himself to every word and becoming the driving force behind the whole thing. If one were to listen to the two records back to back, the difference is blatantly evident.
To wrap up, this article has seen a word count that ventures beyond average (call it an even thousand); and what for? Art of Anarchy are more than a simple namesake collective and deserve their story told and words heard. ‘The Madness’ is a tale of falling and falling hard, searching for redemption and seeking forgiveness and ultimately acceptance. Maybe not a timeless classic, but it is and will remain one of the most refreshing and dignified hard rock records in some time and deserves to be listened to as such. More than just a super-group, whether Art of Anarchy last just another day or a lifetime, the band have given the best of themselves over to fans in the form ‘The Madness’. And as fans, we can never really ask more of an artist than that. Best described through their own lyric, Art of Anarchy are a silent scream you can’t ignore.