Staind — "Staind" Review 5 out of 5 stars
Wed, 07 Sep 2011 08:36:52
Staind always possessed a dark edge.
On Tormented and Dysfunction, they channeled a cathartic anger that had only been effectively captured previously on Korn's self-titled debut, Alice in Chains' Dirt, Nirvana's In Utero, and Pantera's Vulgar Display of Power. However, on their seventh self-titled offering, Staind summon similar demons via another decade of instrumental intricacy and technical talent. Certainly the hallmarks of their sound are there, but you've never heard Staind like this. That's why Staind is the best album of 2011. All ten songs bleed a certain integrity that's been missing from modern hard rock. The Massachusetts hard rock outfit is at its most intense and inspiring here.
"Eyes Wide Open" commences with Johnny April's dense bass steamroll. Suddenly, Mike Mushok's guitar battery begins. His riff drops like a guillotine from polyrhythmic pulverizing into an entrancing bridge. Over this calculated chaos, singer Aaron Lewis psychotically oscillates from a hushed scream into an unbridled roar. At the same time, he delivers one of the catchiest choruses ever committed to tape in a heavy song. Everything explodes during Mushok's intense shredding. Then, the first single "Not Again" kicks off with a dark bluesy intro before grinding through a smoky verse. Lewis paints a vividly violent picture as he punctures the distortion and screams with every inch of his soul just before the arena-ready refrain. Mushok blazes through another fret-burning solo as guttural growls expel raw emotion tangibly.
"Failing" already feels like a classic. A tremblingly gorgeous guitar part encases Lewis's harmony on the verse before a massive hook takes hold. It's hypnotic, heavy, and heartfelt, pulling listeners inside Staind's heart of darkness. After a bouncy groove, Lewis rips through shit-talkers with "Wannabe". The guitar and bass lay down a rhythmic battlefield for the singer to scream over, and it hits as hard as anything they've ever done. "Throw It All Away" is an edgy, ethereal funeral dirge complete with a brilliantly brooding hook, and "Take A Breath" snaps into a combustible chorus that's metered by the vocalist's incredible range.
"The Bottom" reaches a new level of catchy intensity as Mushok's guitar releases industrial noises and Lewis fires off another unforgettable melody. There's a propulsive energy coursing through "Now" that's reminiscent of the more uplifting fare from Chapter V and The Illusion of Progress but with a blinding speed added. Just before the finale, "Paper Wings" is one more exercise in brutality that subsides on an absolutely harrowing bridge.
The final word on the album comes during the stark ballad, "Something to Remind You". With nothing more than Mushok's clean guitar and Lewis's vocals it's a haunting piece of modern folk poetry.
Just like Dysfunction or Break the Cycle, Staind will resonate powerfully on a primal level. It gives the same feeling that songs like "Mudshovel" and "Waste" did. They hit profoundly with a raw honesty. That's why this band proved some revelatory for fans in the first place. That's why they'll continue the tradition here.
Are you excited for Staind?
Check out our exclusive interview with Aaron Lewis of Staind and Corey Taylor of Stone Sour and Slipknot together here!
See our exclusive interview with Mike Mushok here!