In search of Grunge's redemption - 12 Stones - Grunge Redemption?

2006-03-29 18:24

Perhaps it's the fact that the New Orleans quartet are signed to Wind-Up Entertainment who pioneered the post-grunge blueprint for mainstream success with that definitive epic hard rock combo, Creed.

And after all, as Wind-Up's pay-off line informs us, this is one label that prides themselves on "developing career artists" rather than trendy one hit wonders. So do 12 Stones show enough to suggest they're more than just your average bunch of boys who want so much to be in a rock band that they end up sounding like an amalgam of their influences?

The good news is that this surprisingly fresh-faced foursome actually manages to carve their own path through a familiar melange of mainstream post grunge sounds. The opening "Crash" may well mosh to a claustrophobic slab of slightly self-conscious rifferama worthy of say Nickelback, yet the angst is always channelled beyond mere ire. Similarly, "Broken" is a suitably hook-laden power ballad investing epic melodies with a pyrotechnic guitar panorama, tailor made for drive time radio. In contrast "Home" manages to be moody, without ever becoming melodramatic.

With polished, yet muscular MTV friendly production from Papa Roach producer Jay Baumgardner, the stones forget the fact that Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots and Alice in chains charted this sonic territory with far more visceral exhilaration the first time round. Actually, while the sounds may be similar, the lyrical themes couldn't be more distinct with 12 Stones (apostles?) exploring their relationship with their creator on each aching "in search of redemption" song.

With grunge now a dirty epitaph on many a modern hard rock band's career, it remains something of a mystery as to just why such obviously 2nd generation, watered down sounds as 12 Stones self-titled debut should appeal to contemporary listeners at all.

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