Reviewed! Staind - Staind
To be fair, saying Staind’s self-titled album, their seventh studio creation, is the bands best release since 1999’s brilliant Dysfunction isn’t saying all that much. The four albums released during that time (2001’s Break the Cycle, 2003’s 14 Shades of Grey, 2005’s Chapter V, 2008’s the Illusion of Progress) were some of the most uninspired and vanilla sounding rock records ever released by a band not named Puddle of Mudd, and that’s not even mentioning Aaron Lewis’ incredibly confusing and trite solo country album Town Line. Still, it’s apparent that Staind wanted to make a concerted effort to release a heavy record, and with Staind, they’ve succeeded, and they’ve succeeded in spades.
While Staind doesn’t entirely recapture the crushing emotionality and beautifully affected brutality of the band’s 1999 major label debut, you can still feel the emotion and passion dripping from these songs. Staind isn’t a cute record by any means, as the band had become known for releasing, this sh*t is real, and as a listener, you can feel that, and it doesn’t take long for everyone to be thrown into the fire with opener “Eyes Wide Open,” a song brimming with churning guitars and chunky bass lines before Lewis surfaces to deliver his trademark vocals, which range from intense guttural screams to lofty melodies, vocals that have not been heard since “Spleen” rounded out Dysfunction (minus the hidden “Excess Baggage” for you Staind enthusiasts). The albums lead single “Not Again” follows in kind, a track that showcases the band’s brand of accessible heaviness, before making it very clear they list Alice in Chains among their influences with the track “Failing,” then “Throw It All Away,” a hard-hitting ballad built for radio, hits your speakers, which is not only one of the album’s strongest moments, it might be one of the year’s best rock songs period. From there, Staind doesn’t stop delivering, with songs that show this band has plenty left in the tank and plenty left to offer in terms of heavy music (“Take a Breath,” “the Bottom”), and songs that emulate b-sides from the Dysfunction recording sessions (“Paper Wings”), though demons from the band’s past in the form of Fred Durst’s influence linger (“Wannabe” feat. Snoop Dogg). Hey, we all make mistakes, and the rest of this album is more than good enough to make up for this one.
No, Staind isn’t Dysfunction, it isn’t Tormented, nor is it better than either of those records, but with that said, it’s one of the best rock records of 2011, and as close a return to form as we’ve seen yet from Staind, and probably as close as we’ll ever see. Welcome back boys.
Listen to: “Paper Wings”