While I’m a great fan of the big original grunge bands, I must admit that I’ve rarely bothered with the scene that followed them. Alter Bridge has never quite caught my attention and I’ve barely heard Creed, the band that their instrumental members played in with Scott Stapp before joining forces with (future Slash vocalist) Myles Kennedy in 2004. Creed were huge in the US, releasing three multi-platinum albums before the split and eventually re-uniting for “Full Circle” in 2009.
Having first made his solo debut in 2005, “The Space Between the Shadows” is Stapp’s third solo album, documenting a “five-year journey to find meaning – and redemption – in a world where shadows lurk and the space between is a gauntlet towards the light”. “World I Used to Know” is a promising album opener, not quite up there with Soundgarden or Alice In Chains but it could probably have fit right in on an album by the Stone Temple Pilots.
Following the death of Scott Weiland, Stapp actually replaced the STP (and Velvet Revolver) vocalist for the second album by the hard rock supergroup Art of Anarchy, also featuring former members of Guns N’ Roses and Disturbed. This is Stapp’s first full length release since their 2017 album “The Madness”. Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder following a psychotic break, Stapp has also struggled with addiction and suicide attempts. “Purpose for Pain” seems to chronicle his experiences, eventually coming to the conclusion that there still is a little “Heaven in Me”.
“Purpose for Pain is about seeking a higher meaning, a spiritual mentality when dealing with our struggles and life’s painful moments,” says Scott. “There are unexplainable, dark times that everyone goes through, and that pain is real. If we can dig deep and hold on to hope during the most difficult situations, believing there is a purpose waiting for us on the others side, we can find meaning and clarity that gives us the strength to keep fighting.” I totally agree with that statement and this might also be the best part of the album.
Scott Stapp is backed on this album by a band whose names are all new to me: lead guitarist Yiannis Papadopoulos, Sammy Hudson (bass, backing vocals), Ben Flanders (guitar, backing vocals) and drummer Dango Empire. It isn’t a bad album as a whole but it does strike me as an album that will probably connect more with American audiences rather than us Europeans. It’s rather bland and rock radio friendly on tracks such as “Survivor” and “Face of the Sun”, mixing sob stories with quasi-Christian vibes. “Wake Up Call” is a rather pleasant ballad but it even has a children’s choir on it. “Does God help us when we pray or do we face it all alone? There’s no one left to catch your fall but you can change it all, if you want to.” So, please do!
“Red Clouds” is better, making me think of Mad Season and Pearl Jam along with a hint of Peter Gabriel’s “Red Rain”. “Gone Too Soon” is an epic pop song that has Bono and U2 written all over it. I’m sure Stapp has a big audience that loves this stuff too, but it just ain’t me.
“I’ve been to hell and back, I’m the one to blame. I held on to every single lie and I threw the truth away, but the hardest part was to forgive myself for all that pain”, Stapp sings in “Ready to Love”. I’m sure his feelings are genuine but the lyrics sadly seem a bit too cliché to hit any real nerve with me. Offering more of the same, “Mary’s Crying” and “Last Hallelujah” ends the record, leaving me with the impression of an album consisting of too much filler material.
To sum things up: Competent post-grunge that’s sadly rather boring.
Artist: Scott Stapp
Title: The Space Between The Shadows
Label: Napalm Records
Date of release: 2019-07-19
Standout track: Purpose for Pain