Release Date: September 13, 2011
Staind have returned with their seventh studio CD, simply entitled Staind. This 10-track offering sees them getting back to their heavy, kick-you-in-the-teeth signature sound. There are still flashes of the softer side which made them one of the most successful acts in both the alt rock and pop-rock genres, but for the most part, this is old school, Staind. Fans of their breakthrough CDs such as Dysfunction and Break the Cycle will enjoy this CD just as much as those who preferred Chapter V or The Illusion of Progress.
The band will be quick to tell you that making this album was a very difficult, if not miserable experience, and that anger bleeds through into the record, making for a very dark album.
The CD leads off with “Eyes Wide Open”, a rocker reminiscent of their breakthrough rock hit “Mudshovel”, with a bit of a Tool influence. Aaron Lewis’s voice and writing have of course matured since then, but the heaviness Staind fans have missed is back on this track.
The hard-edged “Not Again” is up next. Musically, this one alternates between softer melodic segments and straight-up shredding metal. Vocally, Aaron displays his excellent vocal ability, and at times exhibits a desire to be a death metal growler. Lyrically, I get the feeling it’s about those people who suck you in, time and time again. You swear you’re done with their crap, but each time, they manage to pull you into their web of lies, deception, and treachery… But this time, you’re done with it.
“Failing” makes me think of something off Jerry Cantrell’s second solo CD. It’s Staind through and through, but I definitely hear the Alice In Chains/Jerry Cantrell influence the band has often exhibited.
Rap-metal is back with the song “Wannabe”. I have to admit, I could’ve done without this track. I see the point of it, but it’s probably my least favorite track on the CD. It’s about those who hate, exhibit jealousy toward an artist who’s made it. Seems to be written about those faceless people on internet message boards who have nothing better to do all day than trash others. As I say, the message is good, but stylistically, it just doesn’t fit. Musically though, it’s got some nice moments, including a pretty hot guitar solo.
“Throw It All Away”, I really like. This is classic Staind, a bit ballady, but rocking enough that both sets of Staind fans, the pop kids and the rockers, should get into it. It strikes me as being about someone for whom everything is never enough, and even when they have it all, they just chuck it.
“Take a Breath” is a great number that seems to be telling all those who criticize to take a breath and shut up…It says “I’m listening, I know I’m not perfect, but I’m done with your criticism of me, who I am, and what I do.” Yet, it does this without being a teen angst song. It’s what rock n’ roll’s about, to a point…Simply saying “I’m my own man. You don’t like it? Too bad.” Again, another cool lead guitar part during the bridge.
“The Bottom” can only be described at first as having crunchy guitar parts, some slamming drums, and then suddenly, goes into somber-sounding, yet melodic vocals. Aaron reminds me very much of Maynard from Tool on this one. And no, it’s not a cover of Tool‘s “Bottom”. With any luck, this will be a huge success at some point on active rock radio.
“Now” is a song about choosing your own path, making your own way, and taking responsibility for your own actions. It’s about taking chances, and making something of yourself, and changing direction if the path you’ve chosen isn’t working out so well. Another solid track lyrically, vocally, and musically. It shows yet more great guitar work.
Lyrically and musically, I like “Paper Wings”, but again, during the verses, I think Aaron Lewis is trying too hard to be a metal-rapper. Sorry, but that died out years ago. I like the song on the whole, but could do without the angry white rapper vibe.
“Something to Remind You” is a beautiful song, and a very good way to close the album. It’s about saying goodbye, but paying more attention to the lyrics, I get the feeling it could definitely be about suicide, or death due to a terminal illness. Like many songs, it could easily have many interpretations. Probably my favorite track on the CD. There are no drums, no bass…Just the guitars, and Aaron Lewis putting his all into this one. For my money, I think this is probably the most powerful song, lyrically, Staind has done in a long while.
Over all, this is an excellent CD. Definitely their best since 2003’s 14 Shades of Grey. If you’re a Staind fan, you won’t be disappointed. Even if you were mostly a fan of their previous radio hits such as “It’s Been a While” or “Right Here Waiting”, this CD is sure to please you. Other than the two rap-metal-style tracks, this is a very solid release. It’s definitely one to make sure you have in your CD collection.