Art of Anarchy, ‘Art of Anarchy’ – 5 stars

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Art of Anarchy is an American band formed out of the friendship between Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal and the brothers Jon and Vince Votta (Vince actually came up with the groups’ name.)  Once bassist John Moyer was enrolled from heavy metal band ‘Disturbed’ they had a crew with enough power to knock down walls.  Of course, the one thing missing was a lead vocalist and why mess about when you can go for the best, so Scott Weiland (ex Stone Temple Pilots and Velvet Revolver plus a splendid solo career) was brought in.

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By some, the appointment of Weiland was seen as a bit of a risk due to his reputation of living life on the dangerous edge of rock ‘n’ roll.  In fact, by the time the album was released, the singer had tried to distance himself from Art of Anarchy by saying, “I was never in the band.  It was something I did when I wasn’t doing anything else.  I was asked to write some lyrics and sing some melodies on the project, but it’s not a band I’m in.”  This was quite clearly just Weiland’s version of the events.  Ron Thal quickly responded by refuting these comments and stated that five people made the album together.

The album was started when Thal was still with Guns and Roses and had to be made by tapes being passed from one band member to another between 2012 and 2013, a period in which Scott Weiland was fully involved.  Once the album was finished, produced and engineered by Thal in 2014, Art of Anarchy did some photo shoots and two videos for singles off the album, “Till the Dust is Gone” and “Time Everytime”, all with Weiland fully involved.

Art of Anarchy guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal performs at The Venue in Pattaya. (Photo/Harpic Bryant/Breezeridge Photography)
Art of Anarchy guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal performs at The Venue in Pattaya. (Photo/Harpic Bryant/Breezeridge Photography)

The lineup controversy somewhat took the focus off the actual music.  But what you get on this album is eleven supersonic rock songs covering guttural grunge, staccato thrash, metallic fret mangling and Weiland’s malevolent mewling vocals.  The beat is never less than rock solid.

After the introduction of “Black Rain” you are immediately thrust into “Small Batch Whiskey”, which showcases all the band’s many talents.  Other tracks that deserve your attention are the juggernaut chug of “Time Everytime”, the more melodic “Death Of it All” and “The Drift” plus “Grand Applause”, the last two of which are the only tracks on the album where Ron Thal really cuts loose with his amazing ‘ants on a hot tin roof’ style finger-picking.

Even to these old cloth ears, the sound of a Thal guitar solo in full flight grabs the attention.  So my one complaint about the album is not enough shredding of his trademark twin-neck guitar.  If you have the best guitarist to ever be in Guns & Roses (yes, I include Slash and the bloke with a KFC bucket on his head in that) then why not utilize his full range of skills?  Apart from that little bit of nit-picking this is a great rock album.

Sadly, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle caught up with Scott Weiland in 2015 when he passed away.  In December 2015, Art of Anarchy released this album as a free download in tribute to their fallen singer.  By May 2016 the band announced they had filled the gaping hole left by Weiland’s tragic passing with the recruitment of ex-Creed vocalist Scott Stapp to their ranks.

“The Madness”, Art of Anarchy’s second studio album and the first with the new lineup, is set to be released early this year, and if the You Tube videos of the band’s live performances and the first single off the album are anything to go by, expect big things from this group in 2017.

Track List:

Black Rain

Small Batch Whiskey

Time Every Time

Get On Down

Grand Applause

Till The Dust is Gone

Death Of It

Superstar

Aqualung

Long Ago

The Drift

(Written by Hells Bells and Mott the Dog)

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