Beneath the Scars
Unlike many of their post-grunge contemporaries that rage aimlessly for anger’s sake, the Louisiana-based 12 Stones aren’t afraid to expose the targets of their angst in Beneath the Scars. The gripping opener “Infected” revs up guitar distortion and a high-octane rhythm section to match ferocious lyrics that rail against overseas military occupations. A brooding bass line introduces the following “Bulletproof,” where similar political commentary is juxtaposed with more personal catharsis. Things simmer down with the reflective ballad “For the Night.” And even though screaming still abounds in the riveting chorus, it’s easily the most melodic moment the album has to offer. “Worlds Collide” exercises comparable restraint, as well as more dynamic guitar work; it forgoes stomp-box distortion triggers in the chorus for a repetitive delay effect that has more in common with The Edge than Kim Thayil. 12 Stones even work in acoustic guitars and orchestral string arrangements in the moving “Bury Me,” as Paul McCoy’s impassioned lyrics ask a lover to stop bottling her feelings in the midst of adversity.