Staind are set to release their self-titled and seventh studio release on September 13th. Front-man Aaron Lewis is coming off a successful jaunt into another realm–a 5-song, country influenced E.P., Town Line, and (mostly) solo acoustic tour in support of that effort. Town Line was a complete redirect from Staind and it provided Lewis with a palate cleansing creative outlet following Staind’s disappointing The Illusion of Progress in 2008.
Staind begins with Eyes Wide Open, where a simple bass line is joined by drums and guitar before Lewis assaults with a blend of spoken vocals and well executed screams. Lewis’ emotions always manifest in his vocalization; and feelings of torture, misery and pain are evident throughout the album. Mike Mushok’s guitar transitions deftly mirror Lewis’ vocals to form an empathetic bond between the two, while Johnny April’s bass and Jon Wysocki’s percussion create the foundation for the interplay between Lewis and Mushok.
This album marks a maturation for Staind that embodies a level, both musically and vocally, that sets this release apart from their previous work. Lewis was taking breaks from his solo acoustic tour to record vocals and he’s produced a vocal masterpiece–screams blend effortlessly into clean vocals with crisp transitions. Mushok’s fretwork demonstrates great creativity with intricate riffs leading into scorching solos that frequently underlay Lewis’ gut-wrenching screams (Eyes Wide Open, Not Again in particular). April’s dancing bass lines generally set the tone for Mushok’s crunching riffs, before they separate to support the ever-changing tone of each particular song. Lyrically it’s traditional Staind–angst-filled lyrics with little creativity; and completely opposite to the endearing verses behind Town Line.
Failing and Paper Wings derive Jerry Cantrell influenced riffs complete with Alice in Chains styled harmonies as interpreted by Staind. It just works, they are two of the stronger songs on an already solid album. The Bottom successfully draws from a Korn influenced vibe.
There are two tracks which are a departure from the rest of the album: Wannabe and Something to Remind You. The first is the weakest song with an undirected mocking rap that appears to be a channeling of Limp Bizkit (not horrible, but not good either); while the latter is a self-requiem accompanied by just guitar and represents the strongest lyrical content on the album, a perfect end to Staind’s best effort yet.
1. Eyes Wide Open – 3:30
2. Not Again – 4:34
3. Failing – 5:26
4. Wannabe – 3:49
5. Throw It All Away – 4:24
6. Take A Breath – 3:56
7. The Bottom – 4:15
8. Now – 3:44
9. Paper Wings – 4:23
10. Something To Remind You – 4:07