Rising from the ashes of grunge and NWOAHM, Stained achieved commercial success some ten years ago, mainly based around the bans ballads, most noticeably MTV darling “It’s Been a While”. Since then their success has been decreasing, but the band kept releasing records. Their 2008 release The Illusion Of Progress lacked some quality and it felt more like Aaron Lewis’ solo record of blues and Pink Floyd inspired songs.
Band’s new album, however, sees the band grabbing their instruments and pounding on them as hard as they did in the very beginning of their career.
The opener “Eyes Wide Open” is a very good indication of what is to come. It’s an energetic song that makes you feel that this album just might be the band resurrection. Lewis’ vocal cords are tested to the limits. He delivers a very divers performance, which shifts from one extreme to another and everything in-between.
In many ways Staind sound like born anew and that’s not so much due to the fact that this is much heavier record. There is certain freshness to the songs and arrangements are far more playful and interesting, but yes, the heavy approach does fit the band well.
Endless line of heavy riffs and some very metallic solos take turns and even the more melodic and slower songs have heavier feel to them. At the same time songwriting is more intense and Lewis’ performance as emotional as ever, both during the mellow and heavy parts. It’s a pleasure to hear him bland shouting (almost growling) with the mellow parts.
Songs run smoothly and generally they keep the high level throughout the whole album. The only real downfall is “Wannabe” and that’s mostly because its dissing theme just doesn’t fit the rest of the album or even band in general.
Johnny K’s production is spot on give in the band the heaviness they missed, while still keeping the sound clean and balanced.
Generally looking both songwriting and performance are in top and there is no doubt that Staind are some very professional gentleman. Everything is the way it should be and while that is compliment it also makes the album somewhat predictable. That being said, it needs to be noted that this is one of their least predictable albums.
Stained will not bring back the mainstream fans from Break The Cycle and that’s not so much because this is a heavy record, but mostly due to the fact that those fans have moved to whatever was IN after Staind’s fifteen minutes of fame. Stained is an album by the band that seems to be aware of this and therefore have created and hones a ballsy record.