A new Staind album. For me, a reason to rejoice, but for many of their haters and detractors, another chance to say the same old thing about the group that has been said for about 10 years now. “They went soft”, “They sold out”, or “All Aaron Lewis does is whine and cry for an hour on each album.” Even though I disagree with all of the above statements, to someone who already isn’t a fan of the band, I can see these points. Well friends, if you are one of the haters of Staind, then their new self-titled album is for you.
For those of you who remember, Staind burst onto the scene with their major label debut album, Dysfunction. Dysfunction was a trip through a tortured and infuriated mind of one of the signature bands of the “nu-metal” movement (FYI: I hate the term “nu-metal”). It was harsh, raw, and angry. Full of sorrow, betrayal, and pure aggression, Staind blew away rock fans with their raw emotion and their thick, heavy sound. Needless to say, the albums after Dysfunction failed to meet that same aggression or anger and this disappointed original fans of the band. Not to say the albums after Dysfunction were bad: I loved them and still listen to them to this day. They are just different and show different musical influences and emotions that Aaron Lewis was feeling at that particular time.
It seems as though a lot of people compare Staind’s musical career to Metallica‘s. Both started with hard, aggressive records and eventually made their way to a more “mainstream” or “radio-friendly” sound. Many refer to this as selling out, which I personally have a huge issue with. Just because a band doesn’t rage on a guitar or scream your face off doesn’t mean they have lost their edge or are trying to get rich quick. Musicians are artists and artists need different outlets and ways of expressing their talents. Music would get stale really quick if all bands stuck to one uniform way of expression. Having said that, just like Metallica, Staind has come full circle. Prepare for the album all the Staind fans have been waiting for.
Staind’s self-titled record makes a return to their roots. The songs tell stories of pain, loss, hatred, and just good old fashioned anger. The album kicks off with Eyes Wide Open, a hard hitting, bass heavy opening track that will get your blood pumping. Aaron Lewis brings his harsh screams not heard since Break the Cycle and Mike Mushok has his trusty baritone guitar in full tote. The production of the album is on point and really lets you hear each instrument individually. The lead single off the album, Not Again, portrays some heavy emotions and would be a great song for a break up or being betrayed by a loved one.
One way that this Staind album really stands out is Mike Mushok’s guitar work. This is the first Staind album that there has been a high amount of quality solos. They are very creative, fun and they really showcase the talent that Mike has. As a result, the solos and riffs made me have the reaction, “WHERE HAS THIS BEEN THE LAST 10 YEARS!!??” … but I’ll get over it. Other tracks on the album that stood out were Failing, an Alice in Chains inspired metal/grunge fest with amazing harmonies. Take a Breath is a solid rock track with deep lyrics and great scream to sing vocal transitions. Finally, a track I really loved was Paper Wings. This to me was by far the most angry, hateful song on the record and you could really hear it in Aaron’s voice.
The album closes with a track cleverly named Something to Remind You. This is the only slow song on the album but it works perfectly. It’s a smooth quiet guitar with Aaron’s steady vocals singing some very ominous lyrics that some think could hint the end of Staind (which if you watch the movie that shows the making of this album, would not surprise you).
Final Word: I cannot emphasize this enough. PICK THIS ALBUM UP!!! If you are a Staind fan or just trying to find a new rock album to start blasting, check Staind out. If this is indeed Staind’s last effort, its an amazing one.