Every band needs a focal point. And when GN’R guitarist Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal hooked up with Disturbed bassist John Moyer and brothers Jon and Vince Votta for a new project they called Art Of Anarchy, they achieved something of a coup in persuading ex-STP and Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland to take the mic.
Or so they thought. When asked about the band, the never knowingly diplomatic Mr Weiland claimed the whole thing was a “scam”, he’d been paid to be on the record, and he was not a member of the band. In fact, from the way he described it, you’d think he’d done little more than wandered past a recording studio and accidentally had his tonsils kidnapped.
Apart, that is, from posing for publicity shots in the band line-up, writing lyrics and vocal melodies and recording them on the album as well as doing “some production work on it”, over a period of two years when he claims he “sort of got into when I wasn’t doing anything else”. Hmm.
Who knows how that will affect any potential tour to promote the record, but once you disregard the one-man soap opera surrounding its release and listen to the music, …Anarchy is a pretty tidy record. Opening track Small Batch Whiskey blends guttural grunge, staccato thrash and metallic fret-mangling to underpin Weiland’s ever-malevolent mewl, while the latter’s lyrics (‘Nothing to say, it’s your choice, no one to blame’) suggest a degree of frank self-awareness on the great man’s part that those who have worked with him might argue is uncharacteristic.
The juggernaut chug of Time Everytime also hits the spot, while Get On Down, Death Of It and Til The Dust… have soaring hooks custom-built for radio rotation.
Bumblefoot has always been one of those guitarists whose solos can prick up the clothiest of ears, so it’s a bit of a surprise that he’s fairly sparing with it on this record. Nonetheless, on The Drift and Grand Applause the ants-on-a-hot-tin-roof approach his fingertips adopt with the fretboard make for some startling breaks.
Ultimately, though, the story surrounding the album is bound to influence the way you hear it. Superstar’s sardonic instruction that ‘if you wanna hit the big time baby, just grab it’ sounds distinctly ironic given Weiland’s subsequent claims. ‘Just grab an out-of-work rock star’ might have been more apposite. That plan may already have backfired, but given the results, Art Of Anarchy might well argue that the ends have justified the means./o:p