(for 9-13-11 release)
By Ellen Eldridge
The turn of the century laced listeners’ ears with the sounds of Staind from its debut Dysfunction in 1999 to the band’s 2001 release, Break the Cycle, that debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200. Shortly thereafter, Shades of Grey (2003) and Chapter V (2005) also debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, received acclaimed reviews, and rocked eight top 10 singles across multiple formats with three songs hitting number one, but many fans chided front-man Aaron Lewis as losing his touch or softening too much into ballads. Ah, never fear faithful fans longing for that frustrated edginess – the seventh release Staind returns to rivet and rival the band’s first two albums. The fact that number seven is the self-titled shows a decided renewal and sort of second coming of the band. The addition of Sal Giancarelli as the drummer to replace Jon Wysocki solidifies the only transition in the lineup; this is Staind reborn.
Somewhere between a dark blue/grey slithering spider and a man wrapped in the legs of ladies lays the cover artwork for Staind.
Lewis may have gotten sidetracked by country projects, but from the first chorus of “Eyes Wide Open” fans of the heavier tracks in Staind’s first two albums will quiver with delight. The anger is back and easily heard in lines like “Don’t force my hands when my eyes are wide open” on the first single, “Eyes Wide Open.”
The at times melodramatic sentiment from some of the popular ballads rides a bluesy curve, head-on into a blistering growl right at the one-minute mark of “Not Again” and Lewis unleashes that bite again as listeners happily bleed. “Wannabe” releases some of that Fred Durst influence in the lyrical timing and rhythm, but maintains its idiosyncrasies.
Though it starts more softly again, the drums pound into the guitar crescendo in “Failing.” The bends and squeals, as Lewis sings “Lie like I’m not even here – my heart is breaking/Trying to see through your stare – it looks right through me/Smile and pretend I’m not there – to keep from going crazy” for the second time, cry out to claim the song’s tormented spirit. The overwhelming simplicity of the title “Failing” becomes cathartically apparent and the song’s exit marks an abrupt acceptance of the theme.
By the fifth track, “Throw It All Away,” fans will be singing along with intense excitement that Staind did not, indeed, go country or sell out with a CD with nothing but ballads. These HARD-rocking songs bite physically and slash emotionally into those who pay attention to the interplay of the weapon-like drums and screaming guitars that all seem to cavort along with Lewis’ lyrics.
“The Bottom” should resonate in people’s heads as it initially appeared on the soundtrack for Transformers: Dark of the Moon and “Paper Wings” wrap around the psyche; Staind truly has returned to its deeply embedded, twisted roots. Get out and get Staind this September 13 and keep your eyes on www.staind.com for dates.