The CD case of this album is emblazoned with the boast: “Featuring Grammy Award-Winner, Paul McCoy!” Underwhelmed? Fair enough, for frontman Paul McCoy earned his Grammy by adding those profound, semi-rapped words, “Wake me up!” to Evanescence‘s monster hit Bring Me To life and appearing alongside Amy Lee in the gravity-defying video.
Thankfully, there’s a little more to 12 Stones than living off the reflected glory of a lucky collaboration. Potter’s Field, 12 Stones’ second album, builds on the sound of their steadily-selling debut album as they continue their attempt to take up the mantle of former touring partners, Creed.
At their best, 12 Stones are capable of going a long way towards fulfilling their ambitions. The likes of Shadows, Far Away and Speak Your Mind are more than decent blasts of earnest, anthemically-chorused hard rock but with substantial enough guitar riffage to take them beyond the flimsiness of the Puddle Of Mudds and Nickelbacks of this world and more into the bite of latter-day P.O.D. territory. In Closing is a meaty way to finish too, with a moody melody and some interesting, almost jazzy guitar parts sprinkled on top.
Despite these strengths, throughout Potter’s Field there’s a nagging feeling that something is missing. 12 Stones have all the de rigeur elements in place – McCoy’s brooding vocals; the introspective, self-flagellating lyrics; loud parts here, soft parts there; and super-sleek production courtesy of Dave Fortman (also Evanescence).
However, therein lies the problem – it’s just all so inevitable. When McCoy cries with angst in The Last Song, “I want you!” you just know that his next line is going to be, “I need you!” Similarly, when the intro to Photograph comes in with its semi-acoustic guitars, you can virtually predict the exact moment at which the song is going to switch to all-out, electric offensive. The chord changes, the prevailing timbre… Nearly everything is utterly predictable.
This doesn’t mean that Potter’s Field isn’t worth investigating. If it were a boyfriend you could use words such as “solid”, “dependable” and “upstanding” to describe it. The thing is that other people might equally classify it as “boring”, “boring” and “boring”. Whatever your view, it’s unlikely that 12 Stones will be earning any Grammy Awards for this one.