Review Summary: The definition of a Sophomore Slump: n. 1.Potter's Field. 2. An emotionless piece of garbage, which provided no progress from the debut. (ex. Potter's Field was 12 Stones attempt at a sophomore slump, which succeeded greatly.)
A sophomore slump is a very common thing in the world of music. There are many bands of all genres that have surprised us with a groundbreaking debut (Mudvayne, Linkin' Park, Evanescence) and change their style for their second attempt (I hated The Open Door by Evanescence especially). Other times, the first album isn't Earth-shattering, but still showed promise. 12 stones is the latter. 12 Stones (the album) was a pretty generic rock album that matches the styles of bands like Red, Staind, or Breaking Benjamin, but added a couple of new rockers to the mix such as Broken, Back Up, The Way I Feel, and Crash. Not fantastic songs, but good listens nonetheless. Potter's Field however seems different in many ways. There doesn't seem like a big hit off of the record was even planned. Most albums at least have an idea of what the biggest song will be. "Photograph" and "Far Away" are the only singles, and they don't sound any better than fillers on their self-titled project. There also seems to be a complete lack of emotion in Paul McCoy's vocals, which drove hits like "Lie to Me", "Broken Road", "Anthem of the Underdog", and "Broken". This is a pretty rough ride altogether.
I'm going to start with the few positives I can find. "Stay" is easily the best song off the record, but lacks the passion of other ballads the band has done in the past. The instruments are standard for any ballad, which means there is nothing overly creative besides strait riffs and simple drum patterns. The guitars add more feel than expected to the chorus and make this song stand out, slightly. Sadly, this is the only track anyone will remember, and it doesn't compare to ballads like "Lie to Me" from the bands discography. "Shadows" and "Far Away" are maybe the only other highlights, if that is an appropriate word. "Shadows", a decent opener, is one of the heavier tracks on the album, but doesn't compare to other "Broken" like songs. I enjoy the drum beat (even if it isn't the most complicated work Aaron Gainer (former drummer) had unleashed, but the guitars leave a lot to be desired during the versus. The chorus is decent at best, which leads us to "Far Away". The first single is easily the better of the two, but sounds very generic and un-original. Staind and Crossfade have much better songs with similar titles and similar meanings. It's sad that this is my positive section, but I can't squeeze and more out of it.
The worst tracks on the record are easily "The Last Song", "Lifeless", "Bitter", and "In Closing". They all have similar sounds, not to heavy, but not a true ballad (except for maybe "Bitter"). "Bitter" however has a cringe-worthy chorus and has no bright moments throughout the song, earning it my honorable award of worst song on the album. The others just all combine for the same sound and have no diversity. They are all fillers... I hope. "Photograph" transitions from a very pretty acoustic guitar piece (one of the best instrumental moments on the album) to a heavier section towards the end. The sound is actually decent until you realize you can't find or remember the chorus at all. It ends up as non-memorable as these others tracks, just instrumentally better. "3 Leaf Loser" is one of the other heavy tracks and has decent versus, but the chorus just reeks of the same sound as all the others on this album, which makes this a forgettable one as well. "Waiting for Yesterday" and "Speak Your Mind" have the exact same sound, with held out notes in the chorus, and similar versus. Nothing special about either of them. Wait, is that every track? Wow, this was quite pathetic.
I hate to give this bad of a rating to a band that's other albums are good/great, but the lack of emotion kills this album. This album really should be left off the bands discography and forgotten. There is no explanation for this change in style, but there is no payoff for the poor choices and failed ideas (if there were any) in this album. McCoy needs to stick the vocals he did in their other records (preferably "Anthem for the Underdog") and lose these bland pitches. At least the record after this one ended up being the band's best. Hopefully their next album will play off the strengths of their 3rd album, and learn from the mistakes on the 2nd.
The Last Song: 1/5
Far Away: 2.5/5
Speak Your Mind: 1.5/5
3 Leaf Loser: 2/5
Waiting For Yesterday: 2/5
In Closing: 1/5
Recommendations (If you Must):