Words By: Gerrod Harris
Release Date: June 2nd, via Century Media Records
News of what could become one of rock’s best new super groups, Art Of Anarchy, has been surrounded with both promise and controversy. Consisting of Stone Temple Pilots frontman, Scott Weiland, Guns N’Roses guitarist, Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal, Disturbed bassist, John Moyer, as well as Jon Votta and Vince Votta on rhythm guitar and drums, respectively, the band’s lineup was enough to get fans excited for their debut release. Despite the initial anticipation, Art Of Anarchy has not been free of the drama which often goes hand in hand with rock n’roll. Weiland, who is in the middle of celebrating his recent release, Blaster (read my review here), has distanced himself from this particular project, claiming he was never an actual member of the band, but rather a session musician who only sang over the tracks. Strange enough, he chose to take part in a band photo shoot as well as a music video, something uncommonly done by session guests. Bumblefoot has given Weiland the benefit of the doubt, explaining those quotes may have been manipulated by the press as Weiland has not formally quit the band, and although awaiting to hear from him, Art Of Anarchy has assumed he will be joining them on their upcoming performances.
“Black Rain”, the opening number, more of a prologue to the rest of the album, is a short flamenco solo set the backdrop of a thunderous storm, which transitions right into the first full song, “Small Batch Whiskey”. A pure rocker, if “Black Rain” is the calming peace, “Small Batch Whiskey” is the coming storm. Driven by a sludgy beat, the song is certainly heavy, with equal focus on the impressive musicianship heard in the different instrumental parts as well as Weiland’s vocals cutting through the distorted and effected chords. A definite showstopper is the lead single, “‘Til The Dust Is Gone”, which takes a semi-ballad form, while demonstrating a very catchy riff, with emphasis on creating a spacious atmosphere during the verses, and then filling the choruses with thick distorted guitar parts layered on top each other, and big drum fills. In between the two contrasting sections, Bumblefoot plays some more flamenco guitar, and very tastefully I might add! All of this builds up towards an explosive ending, featuring echoed vocals and thick guitar chugging. “Grand Applause”, another excellent tune and also one of the heaviest, features likely what is the best riff, and is propelled forward by the pulsating drums and bass. Weiland’s voice soars over the start and stop rhythm of the instruments throughout the verse, which escalates towards a ferocious chorus. The concluding track, “The Drift” is a fitting conclusion for an album which has floated between melodic passages, and hard hitting riffs and shredding solos. Much like “‘Til The Dust Is Gone”, “The Drift” includes all of the above, and then some, ending the record with a bombastic array of everything: mood altering sections, larger than life drums, and intense solos.
The biggest drawback to Art Of Anarchy lies in the quality among a few songs. While most songs, like “‘Til The Dust Is Gone”, “The Drift”, “Superstar” and “Aqualung” are great, unique tunes, they carry the album. A small handful of songs- “Time Everytime”, “Get On Down” and “Long Ago”- although not bad are rather forgetful as they tend to fall for overused clichés, making them a tad generic. Those few songs give off a slight impression that they are filler material. Obviously this is rather disappointing; especially considering just how exciting some of the previous songs mentioned can be, making it a shame that same excitement and energy could not be carried through the entire album. This however is only the case for a few songs, and does not stop the record from being great.
Only time will tell if Art Of Anarchy can put their troubles behind them and continue on to tour and create new music. Bumblefoot has stated he has thought of other singers who could fill in for Weiland, should he choose to depart, including Slipknot’s Corey Taylor and Buckcherry’s Jason Todd; however, much like myself, he wants things to work out with Weiland, as he is their first choice for the job. Weiland is a perfect fit for the band as his voice fits the need for smooth melodies, as well as the rougher, gravelly quality which fits with the heavier textures. Hopefully he finds a balance between Art of Anarchy and his solo career with his current band, The Wildabouts. Not many current bands are able to balance hard rock with softer textures without sacrificing their edge, while Art Of Anarchy are able to do so with great finesse. Art Of Anarchy’s music is pure, straight up rock n’roll with a strong foundation in classic rock and metal circa Metallica, while sporting the fist-to-face attitude as heard in each musician’s previous bands. The influence of Stone Temple Pilots, Disturbed, and 2000’s era Guns N’Roses is quite clear. Bumblefoot’s solos are absolutely amazing, stemming from the guitar legends who pioneered the genre, and Weiland’s voice appears in strong form, youthfully resembling his work with Velvet Revolver and STP. While fusing their own inspirations and experience together, they have put together Art Of Anarchy, an album which is both relevant to the world of hard rock, and fun to listen to; ultimately defying the stigma that super groups are nostalgia fueled projects in which the musicians involved ride the coattails of their own fame. Rather, Art Of Anarchy have made a hard rock record which stands out in our current musical climate, and while not the most unique work any of the musicians involved have put out, it is still worth the praise of being a solid debut album, whether we can expect more to come or not.
1: Black Rain
2: Small Batch Whiskey
3: Time Everytime
4: Get On Down
5: Grand Applause
6: ‘Til The Dust Is Gone
7: Death Of It
10: Long Ago
11: The Drift