12 Stones

Potter's Field

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With 12 Stones' sophomore effort, both the band and Wind-Up are aiming to capitalize on the recognition brought by Paul McCoy's memorable chorus cameo in the Evanescence monster hit "Bring Me to Life." To that end, Potter's Field opts for a more powerful, guitar-heavy sound than the band's 2002 debut. Returning producer/mixer Dave Fortman (who also handled boards for Evanescence's Fallen) goes for maximum compression, which should ensure that thick-stemmed rockers like "Speak Your Mind" and "Far Away" are palatable to loud rock audiences. The thing is, this far into the post-grunge game, the old Alice in Chains-via-Creed model of loud lead riffs balancing on introspective verses that then burst through the fog into elegiac or bittersweet choruses is getting pretty tiresome. And yet, the initial measures of Potter's Field's first five songs are completely interchangeable. Riff, rest, roar, repeat. Likewise, 12 Stones' lyrics -- though they're probably more spiritual than, say, Nickelback's -- aren't convincing enough to mark McCoy or his mates' particular mental anguish as connectable. "I walk to the edge again searching for the truth," he says in the 3 Doors Down-ish "Stay"; "Last Song" is either an ode to a helpful girlfriend or a reference to the big JC. "I'm sorry for needing you to carry me." "Stay"'s plaintive lope is nice break from the album's chunky distortion-mongering, but overall Potter's Field is straightforward post-grunge formula.

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