Sunday, October 9, 2011

Staind - Staind

Flip Records/Atlantic Records/Roadrunner Records/Warner Music Australia

For a five year period, Massachusetts (Springfield based) alternative rock outfit Staind couldn’t do a thing wrong, with a couple of multi-platinum selling albums to their name (1999’s ‘Dysfunction’ and 2001’s ‘Break The Cycle’) and a legion of fans that ensured that the tours undertaken were nothing short of record breaking. But somewhere along the line, things started to get a little stale creatively within the Staind camp, and over the course of the next few years (In which time the band released 2003’s ‘14 Shades Of Grey’ and 2005’s ‘Chapter V’), some of the fire within the band seemed to die out. By 2008, the band seemed all but defeated, with their last release ‘The Illusion Of Progress’ representing a dull and lifeless clutch of songs that sounded little more than a pale imitation of the once powerful group’s finer efforts.
It’s been three years since then, and the four piece act (Comprising of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Aaron Lewis, lead guitarist Mike Mushok, bassist Johnny April and drummer Jon Wysocki) have managed to produce a brand new album. According to the band, the making of their seventh album was anything but smooth sailing (Which is not surprising given Wysocki’s departure from the group following the completion of the album), but did result in an album that sees the band returning to the heaviness and aggression heard only on their earlier albums. While the same line was dished out from the band and their management prior to the release of their last album, it would seem that this time around, there’s truth in their statement.
The band lay down their mission statement with the opening track ‘Eyes Wide Open’, which is needless to say one of the heaviest sounding efforts the band has recorded to date. Lewis’ vocals are full of angst and venom, while retaining a sense of melody, while the guitars actually have a place within the song, rather than merely fading into the backdrop scenery (Which was a genuine cause for concern amongst fans on the songs from their last few albums).
The single/promotional video clip ‘Not Again’ is definitely one of the album’s stronger and more memorable efforts with its continued heavy sound direction of the opener, but with a chorus that really stand out, while the slower paced ‘Failing’ is a brooding Alice In Chains like number that bridges the band’s return to heavier territory and the remnants of their not too distant alternative rock sounding directional past.
‘Wannabe’, despite its nu-metal vibe and feel (I’m thinking Limp Bizkit), is noteworthy for the band’s collaboration with Snoop Dogg that doesn’t sound anywhere as bad as it does on paper, while ‘The Bottom’ (Which originally appeared on the ‘Transformers: Dark Of The Moon’ soundtrack earlier in the year), the energetic ‘Now’ and the metallic ‘Paper Wings’ are further highlights dotted on the latter half of the album.
Of course, Staind’s self-titled effort isn’t without its weak moments, with ‘Throw It All Away’ and ‘Take A Breath’ sounding a little mundane and pedestrian in comparison to most of what is offered up throughout the album.
The closing track ‘Something To Remind You’ does at least close out the album on a high note, with Lewis accompanied by nothing more than a sole electric guitar, which allows Lewis to put forward an emotive and passionate performance primarily through his vocals.
Staind’s latest effort isn’t a huge departure from what they’ve done in the past, but it is at least a return to form for the band after a few album releases that saw them stray a little into the void of mediocrity. In other words, if you preferred the direction Staind took on their first few releases, then you’ll certainly want to pick up their latest effort.

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© Justin Donnelly