Staind: Staind

This is the seventh studio album from these New England alternative-metalers, and even though I am very against bands that release self titled albums that aren’t debuts (Avenged Sevenfold and 3 Doors Down come to mind right off the bat), I’m a big fan of this record. I’m actually a fan of all of Staind’s records. You guys ready to feel old? “Break the Cycle” came out 10 years ago and that was this bands third album. Since the bands inception in 1995, Staind have always open their doors for people to peer inside of the crazed life that is/was Aaron Lewis, the singer, major songwriter, and the heart and soul of the band. Every album Staind have ever written features Aaron releasing his demons onto every track and somehow, he was able to summon some demons again to make this record. Now when I say that I don’t want people to think that this is simply another Staind record. It’s not by any stretch of the imagination a ‘going-through-the-motions’ record. This is actually my favorite record since “Break the Cycle” (I like 14 Shades of Grey” a lot more than “Chapter v” and “Illusion of Progress” but this new record is better in my opinion).

Now, my biggest problem with this band honestly has nothing to do with the band themselves, but how people view the band.  Staind came out in the mid to late 90s when Nu metal was exploding and Staind were even a nu metal band when they first started, but the band were always a lot more mature and sophisticated than bands like One Minute Silence or Limp Bizkit. Like their contemporaries, Linkin Park, Staind threw all their hate and anger onto every track they released  even if the song was slower or lighter than most. My main problem is that I feel that Stand have never truly gotten the respect they deserved. “Break the Cycle” reached number 1 on multiple charts, mainly due to the single “It’s been awhile”, which quickly took the airwaves by storm, but few people I think really took the time to dig into the lyrics of their songs and in that song in particular, there’s some really heavy shit on that track. Few people really understand the true nature of Lewis, so I feel like not enough people truly appreciate Staind’s music and that’s why the band have suffered from only lukewarm reviews for every album except “Break the Cycle”. Now those of you who know me understand that I really dont care too much about how high an album places on the charts, especially now considering people don’t buy records anymore, let alone CALL them records (besides me that is), but it just upsets me to see this honest and pure band not getting the recognition they deserved. However, I bet if you asked  a bunch of bands nowadays in that particular genre, I bet most would cite Staind as a major influence (Seether, Red, Ill Nino, and maybe Flyleaf) .

Anyway, enough bitching. Let’s talk about the positives of this new record. I mentioned before that Lewis was able to summon some his his past demons again in order make this record and I think the album artwork for this new album speaks for itself. Many of the songs on this record are very sludgy, with that distinct guitar sound bleeding through Lewis’s screaming vocals. On a couple songs actually, I noticed the guitars really shredding and I don’t really remember ever hearing them shred like that before, and that immediately caught my attention. Songs like “Eyes Wide Open”, “Paper Wings”, “Failing”, and “Now” are all huge songs with really memorable choruses.”Wannabe” is a true Limp Bizkit style nu metal song, with goofy lyrics and a nice bounce to get you off your ass and moving. The band are on top form with his record. Johnny’s bass plows through all the songs like a steamroller and Mike’s guitar, like i said earlier, is shredding in places that I haven’t heard before. Aaron Lewis’s vocals are as intense and majestical as they’ve always been, delivering one of the best vocal performances of his career on songs like “Failing” and “Eyes Wide Open”. He also closes the album with an eerie reflection of his life thus far featuring only his vocals and Mike’s folk-styled clean guitar chiming  in.

All in all, this is truly just a really strong record and a real return to form for this band. I felt like they had dipped for the past five years or so and I felt like the good things that made Stand Staind on the first few records had slightly died off, but now the integrity of the band is back and a decade later, Staind are able to recreate the effect “Break the Cycle” had on me. This album most likely will not receive unanimous critical praise like “Break the Cycle” did, but who cares. This album has reigned all the lyrical  integrity and musical intricacy from “Dysfunction” and “Break the Cycle” and produced the third best record of their career (in my opinion). This one will definitely be in my top 20 albums of the year. I’m not sure if Staind are currently on tour or if they have a new tour for the fall/winter set up yet, but if they do, you’d be a total idiot to miss them. I’d even bet that Staind are on some pretty high festival bills for the summer of 2012 (Mayhem or Upraor is almost guaranteed) because the only way to truly test a band is to stack up their ten best songs against another bands and when you look at Staind’s back catalogue, they have a really strong set of songs n their arsenal to pull from and I think they could take the pepsi challenge with a lot of their contemporaries on the big stage.

Until next time, keep an eye out for my review on the new Devil Wears Prada album and the new Dream Theater album.

Luke Helker


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