By Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy
Everyone loves a good comeback. When a person has their accomplishments overshadowed by their troubles, we as fans rally behind them. If there is one musician out there that deserves a chance to shine again, it is Creed frontman Scott Stapp. His achievements in rock music took a backseat to his problems with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. Then, in 2016, he joined up with the hard rock supergroup, Art of Anarchy. This is a band that was going through its own problems since legendary frontman Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver) died in late 2015 from drugs. Consisting of lead guitarist Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (Guns ‘N’ Roses), bassist John Moyer (Disturbed), and the Votta twins Jon (rhythm guitarist) and Vince (drummer), they recruited Stapp to bring us their newest album, The Madness.
It is a departure from what they originally sounded like with Weiland at the helm. This new direction the group is on works their favor. The lyrical content written by Stapp is heart-wrenching. He pours his soul into these words, talking about his struggle with his illness and finding redemption through his faith. I especially like the chorus on the title track, “The Madness,” where he says “The otherside of fear is freedom, the otherside of pain is healing, the madness keeps me from the otherside.” Stapp is basically saying that his bi-polar disorder kept him from enjoying his life. I feel the pain of these words. The vocals he produces on this song, as well as the other ones, truly speak volumes about this underappreciated artist. His majestic voice soars to Heaven for Ronnie James Dio to hear, and most assuredly give the horns up in approval.
I feel that some of the songs also address his family and always being there for them. On the song, “Won’t Let You Down,” he makes a promise to his family he will keep fighting for them.From “No Surrender” to “Dancing With the Devil,” Stapp and his golden baritone voice, matches the music of the band. The blend of Creed, Guns ‘N’ Roses, and Disturbed fit together perfectly. When I first played “Echo of a Scream,” this fan knew something special was created. Thal is a wizard on lead guitar. He is at the top of his game, performing sizzling solos that are on fire, especially on “1000 Degrees.” Moyer provides the music with some soul-crushing bass notes, giving the songs a pulse. Meanwhile, Jon and Vince Votta generate slick rhythms that bring the tunes to live. The best song of the album was “Somber.” The synergy between these five talented musicians is evident, playing a sweet ballad that is electric. Even in a solemn tune, it rejoices my spirit.
While what Art of Anarchy did with Weiland was good, I believe Stapp is a better fit for them. This is the hard rock record I have been waiting for. With blazing music, magnificent singing, and deep lyrics, The Madness brings some much needed sanity to this crazy world of rock ‘n’ roll. It is good to see him succeed outside the group that made him a bona fide rock star. He breathes new life into the band, and I believe this is simply the beginning. As long as they keep writing fantastic songs, nothing will stop them from dominating the music world. To Art of Anarchy, I salute you. Horns up!!! 10/10.
Art of Anarchy, The Madness Track Listing
1. “Echo of a Scream”
2. “1000 Degrees”
3. “No Surrender”
4. “The Madness”
5. “Won’t Let You Down”
6. “Changed Man”
7. “A Light in Me”
9. “Dancing With the Devil”