ART OF ANARCHY is back for round two with The Madness, this time featuring polarizing vocalist Scott Stapp who replaced late lead singer Scot Weiland. And I have to say Stapp totally shines on this record from top to bottom, front to back, and soup to nuts. Add lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal, bassist John Moyer, and twin brothers Jon Votta (guitar) and Vince Votta (drums), mix in a healthy dose of rock and roll swagger and you get one hell of a record. This truly sounds like it was meant to be; that these men were destined to end up here, playing together, making music that is quite frankly outstanding.
Right away you can’t help but get caught up in songs like “No Surrender”, “The Madness,” and opener “Echoes of a Scream.” They have this build-up that leads to a huge crescendo on the hooks that makes you want to sing them loud while pumping your fist in the air. “1000 Degrees” is a track that is deliciously evil in its delivery while still having an infectious chorus. Stapp sounds rejuvenated on all the aforementioned tracks, but never more so than on my absolute favorite “Won’t Let You Down.” The lyrics on this album are very autobiographical yes, but on this one he really pours his heart out, so much that it has affected me since first hearing it months ago.
The same can be said for “Changed Man.” I defy anyone to listen to this track and not think about how important second chances are in this short life of ours. I literally cried in Aisle 53 at work when I first heard this one. And I had to play it again a few times and get it all out before I could move on. This is an open letter that any of us could sing to those we’ve hurt, and if you’ve got a past like mine, that list is LONG. Once again Scott Stapp sings with a conviction I’ve not heard from him in years. It’s almost like this album was his calling, his mission, so to speak.
Fine riffs abound with “A Light In Me”, which has an almost waltz-like beat, then “Somber” proves to be just that. It’s a very well-done song, but fuckin’ Hell it’s a real downer. Fear not though, because one of my absolute fucking favorites on this record, “Dancing With the Devil” just kicks in the windows, dances on the tables, and pours accelerant over everything before looking back with a smile and a wink before lighting the match and watching it all burn. “Afterburn” has an atmospheric quality going on behind the melody, while the band is busy rocking out on the closer.
Listen, when all is said and done, ART OF ANARCHY knocked it out of the park with this album. The Madness is an amazing record from start to finish, and Scott Stapp’s lyrics and vocals really hit home for some of us who have maybe dealt with life, love, loss, addiction, and more. I can only hope this is the beginning of something that will yield more records like this for the forseeable future. Scott Stapp, if you’re reading this thank you for these insightful lyrics, and to you and the rest of the band, thank you for giving us such an awesome rock record! Pick up your copy on March 24 via Century Media Records, you won’t be sorry!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM