Written by: PP on 21/10/2011 17:02:18

Whenever someone mentions Staind, your mind is immediately drawn towards songs like "It's Been A While", "Epiphany", "So Far Away" and "Outside", the classic alternative metal and radio-friendly hard rock purveyed by the band at the height of the nu-metal era ten years ago. Few will also recall their crunchy, metallic debut album "Tormented" and its slightly softer follow-up "Dysfunction" from the late 90s, but I doubt there's anyone who can honestly attest to having fond memories of "Chapter V" or "The Illusion Of Progress", their previous two albums, which morphed Staind' status from the brink of super stardom to yet another victim of the nu-metal collapse. Nowadays when a new Staind album arrives people are more likely to think "wait, they're still around?" rather than queue hours to secure tickets for their next show.

Enter their seventh album, which the band have simply titled "Staind". It's a fitting title in the same way as Creed's "Full Circle" was one, because it returns their sound to exactly that sound which most of us imagine whenever someone mentions Staind. To put it bluntly: Staind haven't sounded this much like Staind in at least a decade. What that means in practice is that "Staind" abandons the soft songs of past few albums that were more aligned with pop rock than the crunchy alt-metal the band stood with originally, replacing them with heavy guitars and the most melancholic singing we've heard from Aaron Lewis since "Break The Cycle".

Songs like "Failing" and "Not Again", for instance, act as a reminder of why Lewis is often considered to be one of the best vocalists in his genre. Sure, his singing style is borderline whiny, but he adds that saddened mood to his voice unlike anyone else, resulting in many back-chilling melodies and unfathomably catchy choruses, which is also the case throughout most of "Staind". The slow tempo of the aforementioned songs and those like "Throw It All Away" make out these songs to be almost like ballads, except when Staind writes ballads, they are crunchy, heavy, and powerful, instead of the wimpy acoustic stuff most other bands tend to write. There's even a healthy dose of screaming included as a throwback to the "Tormented" and "Dysfunctional" eras.

But most of all, "Staind" references "Break The Cycle" in both style and sound. It's an album which has almost no weak songs (excluding the Limp Bizkit-esque "Wannabe"), but only material on par with the best that hard rock / alternative metal has to offer. The songs might be shallow and simple in terms of artistic integrity and composition, but don't tell me "Take A Breath" isn't catchy and enjoyable precisely because of that reason. You don't always want experimental and cutting-edge music, sometimes a tried-and-tested formula just works better. That's something "Staind" is a testament to, and for a radio rock / hard rock album, it's certainly one of the best we've heard in a while. The question is, however, is it too late? Will there be others interested in the band based on this record other than those of us who nostalgically look back to the "It's Been A While" sing alongs?

Download: Not Again, Failing, Take A Breath, Eyes Wide Open
For the fans of: Cold, Seether, Crossfade, Creed
Listen: Myspace

Release date 13.09.2011
Atlantic / Roadrunner

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