I remember the days when Staind were nothing more than just another sullen faced grunge band, plodding along and not diverting too much from their musical path. However, on their seventh full-length album they appear to have returned to their heavier roots. For many Staind fans this will impress them, and for a lot of neutrals, I think it will too. Vocalist Aaron Lewis is often not given enough credit for his vocal range, whilst he may not be able to hit soaring high notes, his downbeat, sulky voice fills out this album perfectly alongside the big hard hitting riffs, and his impressive roar is the perfect soundtrack to this dark masterpiece.
Album opener ‘Eyes Wide Open’ builds slowly to a climax before a lead heavy riff marks the beginning of the album proper. It doesn’t take long for Aaron Lewis to break out into an ear splitting scream, and for any long term Staind fans, this brilliant opener marks a return to form. It’s an unquestionable fact, this is a heavy album, and songs like ‘Wannabe’ and ‘Paper Wings’ prove this in a tremendously thundering fashion. When you mix the best parts of metal, grunge and classic rock, this is what you get; pure anger, in the dirtiest fashion you can imagine. Lead single ‘Not Again’ simply blows you away with its power and huge guitar solo.
For newer Staind fans fear not, there are still some more radio friendly moments on this album. Closer ‘Something To Remind You’ really is reminiscent of their previous album, with its singular riff and impassioned vocals that really show off the talent of Aaron Lewis. ‘Throw It All Away’ is also another huge song that’s sure to have you banging your head and singing along in equal measure. ‘Now’ is probably the happiest (if that word can ever be used to describe a Staind song) on the album, and its upbeat and fast-paced riff really shows that the band are capable of mixing things up.
The term “return to form” is one that is often used too much and in this case it is definitely not the case. Staind have always been a good band, however, they have chosen to take a more melodic route over the past few years, which doesn’t fully meet the potential of the band. So, this album it is not a return to form for Staind, it’s just simply the best album they have released since 2001’s ‘Break The Cycle’. Perhaps even the best record of their career, I’ll leave that up to you to decide.
Written by Oliver Thompson