12 Stones’ album Beneath the Scars has some scars of its own, having been delayed about a year and changing its name from Only Human to its current title. It’s also been completely remixed. There’s the athletic cliché, ‘no pain, no gain,’ however, and this patience-testing release appears to be well worth the wait. Producer Skidd Mills, who has worked with the band in the past, brings out the best in this veteran group. Perhaps Mills’ best work is displayed in the way he’s tempered Paul McCoy’s gravelly vocals. On past efforts, McCoy’s voice could be harsh to the point of distraction. And yet, on “That Changes Everything,” McCoy’s voice actually sounds pretty. With that said, however, ‘pretty’ is likely not what any self-respecting rock band ultimately attains to and Beneath the Scars includes plenty of hearty hard rock. From the grunge-inspired “Infected,” to the bass-driven, propulsive “Bulletproof,” 12 Stones shows no difficulty in cranking it up. Lyrically, the group behaves like the voice of reason in a crazy world. Songs such as “Psycho” and “Pretty Poison” highlight the world’s darkness, while “Infected” is a reminder of just how hard it is to be in the world, but not of it. Indeed, 12 Stones rises above it all with Beneath the Scars.
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