Album Preview: Staind
Tue, 31 May 2011 18:50:48
There's an unsettling beauty to Staind's new music.
It's marked by the same kind of unnerving emotion that turned Dysfunction into a classic for fans worldwide. However, that emotion has been siphoned through a much tighter, tougher, and more tremendous catharsis.
Guitarist Mike Mushok played me five songs from the band's forthcoming seventh album, due out later this year, and they're still etched inside my psyche. The songs gave me the same feeling that I got the very first time I heard Dysfunction in its entirety. That was the moment I became a fan of Staind for life.
I still remember every detail of it vividly. It was a rainy day in Boston on April 13, 1999. It's not surprising that it was rainy; it's almost always overcast and rainy in Beantown during the Spring.
I'd heard "Just Go" on the local hard rock station WAAF numerous times, and I was entranced by it. The combination of Aaron Lewis's invitingly dark croon, Mushok's twisted baritone fret wizardry, and the ominous rhythms from Johnny "Old School" April on the bass and drummer Jon Wysocki proved chilling and comforting all at once. The band's brilliance always arose from that uncomfortable space between raw, real pain and a unique musical exorcism. They were the proverbial light in the darkness, and I could feel it even more than I could hear it on "Just Go".
I bought the record as soon as I got out of school that day at the Newbury Comics store in Government Center, and then I took the Blue Line train home to Revere with the album blaring through my Discman.
By the time the final screams of "Spleen" filtered out of my headphones and into the ethers of the gray Boston sky, I was hooked. The band resonated with me on a primal level, but I couldn't stop humming the melodies either. Staind made darkness catchy. I walked home in the rain, listening again and again to Dysfunction because it made me feel better at 14-years-old. It felt like someone else out there knew what I was going through, and the fact that the very CD itself existed proved there was hope.
A little over 12 years later, I'm sitting in a Los Angeles high rise with the architect of those thunderous baritone riffs playing me the band's seventh album. I felt that same shuddering intensity the second that Mushok kicked off the album.
The first song that he played me, "Eyes Wide Open," snaked from polyrhythmic pummeling guitar into some of Lewis's catchiest vocals yet. Even as the singer screamed, I was transfixed—much like with Tool's Ænima, the guitars weaved in and out of the vocal melodies, conjuring divine devastation. The song's heavy beyond belief, and it snaps into some blazing fretwork that solidifies Mushok's guitar god status even further. That was only the beginning too…
"Not Again", which Staind debuted at Rock on the Range this weekend, rises from a staccato thrash riff into an arena-filling refrain where Lewis's vocals reach heights that only legends can touch. The bass rumbles with a raw fire as Mushok rips another lead that'll have shredders studying this album.
Now, "Failing" stands out. There's an eerie elegance to the melodic lead line before it breaks into a chorus that could make Layne Staley tear up. This album is like Dirt for the 21st century. The song weaves through all kinds of instrumental fireworks during its five-minutes plus. It's got a timeless harmony from Lewis too.
Then there's "Wannabe". Screams abound here, and it's the heaviest song the band's ever done both lyrically and musically. There's a hardcore violence to it peppered with a little urban swagger that sees Staind once again challenging themselves. None of these songs sound even remotely the same, and that's the real beauty of it.
"Something To Remind You" captures true sadness with its echo-y lullaby-style guitar and Lewis's poignant poetry. The guitar and vocals cling to each other like "Going to California", making for a goodbye that may make you tear up.
After the five songs finished, I looked at Mushok with a wide smile. I haven't felt like this since that train ride and I can't wait for more.
This is a timeless masterpiece, and Staind can't be stopped.
Are you excited for Staind's new record?
Check out our extensive coverage of Aaron Lewis's Town Line!
Watch an exclusive video interview with Aaron Lewis here!
Watch Aaron Lewis perform "75" acoustic for ARTISTdirect.com here!
Watch Aaron Lewis perform "Country Boy" acoustic for ARTISTdirect.com here!
See our review of Town Line here!