Staind delivers successful return to heavier roots

Jack H. Evans

Far too often, already-successful bands alter their sound in an attempt to reach a more mainstream audience. Alternative rock/metal group Staind found success in the early-mid 00’s with songs like “It’s Been Awhile” and “Outside,” but with their new self-titled effort (released Sept. 13), Staind move back to a heavier sound closer to their roots. Formed in Massachusetts in 1995, Staind’s metallic sound quickly drew attention in the budding alternative metal scene. On Staind, songs like “Eyes Wide Open,” “Not Again,” and the Slipknot-like “Paper Wings” are a far cry from their more melodic hits, showcasing that they haven’t lost their rough edge. The tracks also prove that vocalist Aaron Lewis is one of the few frontmen in rock that has both a decent singing voice and a powerful scream. Of course, Lewis’s vocal prowess would be useless without a strong lineup of musicians behind it. Guitarist Mike Mushok delivers absolutely crushing riffs alongside blistering solos in “Not Again” and “Wannabe.” The rhythm section of bassist Johnny April and drummer Jon Wysocki (who left the band after completion of the album) certainly don’t fail to deliver either, as songs like “Eyes Wide Open,” “Paper Wings,” and the musically catchy “Now” are driven by the longtime pair. While Staind certainly leans towards the heavier end of the musical spectrum, the album is actually made more interesting by the inclusion of some more melodic tracks. “Failing” starts off melancholic with harmonies that are reminiscent of Alice in Chains, and “Something To Remind You” proves to be the softest track on the record. Every song on the album has a dark feel expressed in many ways, from the industrial squeal on “The Bottom” to the mournful ballad qualities of “Something To Remind You.” Lyrical matter generally fits, as Lewis sings of lost love and personal downfalls and frustrations. While songs like “Throw It All Away” and “Take A Breath” can be dull at times and the nu-metal vocals on “Wannabe” are one of the albums major drawbacks, Staind is consistently satisfying throughout. Not only will it surely please fans old and new, it also has an appeal that will likely draw in headbangers, mainstream rock fans, and casual music listeners alike. Overall rating: 9/10