I’ll admit that I haven’t paid much attention to Staind over the last few years. After the release of 14 Shades Of Gray, I found the band heading in an uncertain direction. No longer sure of their voice or where their music was heading, I was disappointed and bored, and thus moved on to other bands. After hearing their latest single, “Eyes Wide Open,” I decided to give the band another chance and picked up a copy of their self-titled release. It was one of the best musical decisions I have made in recent years. Staind have found their current voice and the end result is spectacular.
Still fused fully in the dark side of rock, the recent change for Staind is the bands’ desire to unleash their anger in the music. Whereas past albums were dark and depressing, wondering how to survive the future, their latest disc is filled with fight. Songs like “Wannabe” and “Now” are anthems to haters and doubters that they’d better back off. Staind isn’t going to stand around and be your punching bag. They even take the time to call out those that would download their music for free (i.e. steal it) and then trash it online.
Blending grunge and hardcore rock, Staind’s latest record takes their enjoyable sound to a level not previously achieved. The crisp guitar solos by Mike Mushok obliterate any of his previous work and the structure of each of song is impeccable. “The Bottom” has a striking melody that sounds like a cross between Nine Inch Nails industrial rock and a Poison Power Ballad. It is a beautiful melody punctuated by Lewis’ amazing voice. “Now” is a solid, hard rocking smack in the face complete with finger shredding guitar work worthy of a Mastodon comparison. “Wannabe” is a war cry for the haters to go away and find somewhere else to waste their time. Hearing Staind call out the freeloaders was the highlight of the record.
Staind finds the band pulling no punches, and musically, it finds the band meshing the likes of which they haven’t since the late 90s. This is Staind at the top of their game and it’s a welcome thing of beauty. Lead singer Aaron Lewis’ voice is as powerful as ever. His singing ability has never failed to amaze me and even more so on Staind. Mike Mushok is firing on all cylinders, exploding through blistering guitar solos, and keeping the melodies in perfect harmony with the rest of the music. The rhythm section of Johnny April and Jon Wysocki (no longer a member of the band) round out the music nicely.
Less is more was a theory that the band obviously subscribed to, and it paid huge dividends. While Staind only comes with 10 tracks, each of these masterfully crafted beauties are works of art worthy of cherishing for several years to come. Had I given this record a chance sooner than 2012, it’s possible that it may have cracked my top 10 for 2011. Well, there’s always the top ten for the decade.
Rating: Out of 10
- Eyes Wide Open
- Not Again
- Throw It All Away
- Take A Breath
- The Bottom
- Paper Wings
- Something To Remind You
Aaron Lewis – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Mike Mushok – Lead Guitar
Johnny April – Bass
Jon Wysocki – Drums