Art of Anarchy, ‘The Madness’ – Album Review
Most are aware of the very public issues with bipolar disorder and substance abuse that Scott Stapp underwent in 2014, and the rocker has worked very hard to get his life back on track. Things are definitely breaking in the right direction these days, as Stapp has found himself the perfect fit fronting Art of Anarchy, who are releasing The Madness, their first album with Stapp on vocals.
The band, which also features former Guns N' Roses guitarist Ron "Bumblefoot" Thal, Disturbed bassist John Moyer and brothers Jon and Vince Votta on guitar and drums, already had a base releasing their first album with Scott Weiland on vocals. But as they approached their second disc, there was a need for a frontman who could take them forward. Enter Stapp, who found an ease working with his new bandmates, enjoying the pleasure of building songs from the jam up.
Perhaps never more raw and vulnerable vocally, the singer bares his soul in the lyrics with references that are both obvious and more veiled about his personal struggles. Most familiar with the band are already aware of the recent hit single and title track, "The Madness," a well-received song that is filled with the intensity and experience of what Stapp has dealt with yearning for a better life while dealing with "the madness" that has plagued him. But there's much more to the disc than the recent hit single.
The group has also released the album opener, "Echo of a Scream," a slamming, large-sounding rocker with chugging guitars and a steady beat that includes some killer guitar solo trade-offs with Bumblefoot and Jon Votta later in the track. It's an excellent start to the disc and it only gets better from there.
"1000 Degrees" is a stomp/clap rocker that turns into an anthem with Stapp offering the very revealing, "I guess I'm on fire / I'm sick and I'm tired / I am cursed / I'm my worst enemy / Down in a spiral / That which is viral / I live / I die / I breathe at 1000 degrees" to listeners. "No Surrender" pulls things back a bit with a spiraling hypnotic guitar open that builds into a chorus with the band firing on all cylinders.
The strongest part of the disc kicks off with "The Madness" and a therapeutic journey for Stapp that plays out over the next couple of songs. "Won't Let You Down" plays with the time signature a bit, but Stapp absolutely nails it melodically, sharing with a loved one that "I won't let you be a casualty of my war." "Changed Man" is the piece de resistance power ballad, with Stapp professing to his wife that he's no longer who he used to be. "Give me one more chance / I'm a changed man / It's time to come back home," belts the singer with arms wide open.
While solid, "A Light in Me" and "Somber" bring the album down a bit, before Art of Anarchy end strong with a pair of raucous tracks that show what they can do with a little attitude. "Dancing With the Devil" would feel right at home in Velvet Revolver's catalog, powering forward with swagger to spare. Meanwhile, Stapp has repeatedly praised the album closer "Afterburn," a more upbeat song with the singer belting about coming to terms with living with the things he's done.
While Art of Anarchy may fall under the umbrella of a supergroup and they're just getting started playing their first live shows, it appears as though they've definitely hit on something solid with this pairing of musicians. The musicianship is strong, the writing connects and they have a disc that could go deep in terms of radio singles. The Madness is just the beginning of what looks like a bright future.
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