"Chapter V" (Atlantic; 2005)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

One thing is certain: Aaron Lewis is in pain. This 2005 poetic therapy session still has Aaron singing like he’s never gotten better or even over the first heartache he received so many years ago. Alice in Chains could get away with the inner turmoil because the guitar of Cantrell was the couch Layne laid down on to spill out his heart and soul. Aaron’s got the torment to keep Staind in business album after album, but the music just seems to stay the same.

The song “Right Here” was a radio single but those who long for the melodies of old might have to dust off their previous angst. “Paper Jesus” sounds exactly like Alice in Chains, and the music chugs along until Aaron holds up the “Quiet” stick and stops the locomotion of driving drums and guitar. Personally, I found it annoying to stop something in motion just to convey emotion. Now, the track “King Of All Excuses” just stomps. It’s one of the highlights for those who want a monster track and for those who want Staind to rock out. The problem is that it's at the end of the disc, better put it on shuffle. The last song, “Reply” has a solo. I rewound it three times just to hear it. Man, am I longing for something from this band?

Although Aaron still sounds like he’s sitting on the edge of the stage with a stiff drink recollecting his painful adolescence that forced his shattered adulthood, I feel that he’s got hope mixed into his uncertainty cocktail. I guess with three number one albums under his belt he might actually be taking his own advice, that maybe there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. Of course I don’t cut myself with him, but millions of other people have, so success hasn’t curbed him from still searching for that answer he keeps asking himself.

The music is a push/pull style. Aaron’s got a good voice and he never screams his emotions into your face so the music reflects his moods. Fans who want to spend a night in misery should look no further that Staind for their pity party music. This band should be equated to a piñata -- whack the crap out of it and you might get candy. Then again, you might get carrots.

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"Break the Cycle" (Elektra/Flip; 2001)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Staind is Nu-Metal. You see, we can’t even spell the word “new” correctly because we have to distinguish music that is different by spelling out frustrations and angst. Staind fall into the category that uses emotion/anger/disappointment that is based on mommy and daddy not loving them enough. Although I’m not one to use this type of music or lyrical whining as my soundtrack I still like that it was created from something.

Aaron Lewis uses about thirty years of heartbreak to fuel his songs. I’d like to meet the therapist who told the first troubled teen to stop complaining about their problems while on the couch and instead write a song and tell the world. Now don’t get me wrong: we all have a past that wasn’t perfect and Aaron Lewis is entitled to tell his side of the story.

Once you get past the dreaded angst, the music is good. Lewis has a comfortable voice and is easy to sing a long with, when he sings. Sometimes, however, as in “Can’t Believe” he comes close to a death metal growl. The guitar is brutal on most of the songs but there is some acoustic guitar as well. The drums pound hard and remind me of Alice in Chains. The bass seems to be forefront when the guitar and drums take a backseat. This ensures that there is always at least one instrument going at all times.

Most of the hits from this CD were severely overplayed on the radio, but Staind came out and punched most radio stations in the face with their brand of rock. It’s a good CD to listen to when you need to wallow in self-pity ... just remember to look at what you have afterward and remember: the windshield's view is wider than the rear view mirror.

The best tracks are “Open Your Eyes,” “It’s Been A While,” “For You,” and “Outside.”

Staind: Mike Mushok – guitar; Johnny “Old School” April – bass; Jon Wysocki – drums; Aaron Lewis – vocals.

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"Dysfunction" (Elektra/Flip; 1999)staind.jpg (9225 bytes)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

OK, OK, OK - I admit, this major label release blessed by Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst wouldn't be high on my list of things to review, but guess what - it's cool. Undoubtedly, the strong connections with Durst have helped Staind get some exposure, but the reality is that good songs will always separate better bands from average bands.

From the off-kilter ruminations of "Suffocate" to the 'walls-are-closing-in' dynamics of "Spleen" Staind make an enduring impression. Staind aren't subtle - Staind are in-your-face intense; it's not something that is easily forgotten. Staind give me the feeling of joy children get from coloring outside of the lines - it's totally unconventional and not so innovative, yet wonderful at the same time. It's an added bonus that the band can actually write songs that convey a sense of real feelings from real experiences.

I still can't get over the crushing weight of "Just Go"; from the lilting verse riff to the overwhelming chorus to the destructive volley of the last guitar figure this song just rocks. "Raw" has great impact - the devastating lyrics "my choices haunt me everywhere I go" are unforgettable. "Home" has one of the more affecting lyrics I've heard in a long time. "A Flat" appeals to my sense of the unique - it's one of those songs I really like but have trouble explaining why. 

There is little or no trace of rapping which easily makes one forget the connections to Limp Bizkit. Singing outweighs the screaming which provides immediate appeal. The lyrics and vocals run the gamut of emotions from agitation to melancholy to remorse. As far as the music goes something special is evident from track one to track ten. The murky guitar melodies are in stark contrast to the supple bass and drums which merges the best of grunge's gruff sounds with the resonance of new metal (Korn and Deftones).

The band is made up of Aaron Lewis on vocals, Mike Mushok on guitar, Johnny "Old School" April on bass, and Jon Wysocki on drums; Mushok, April, and Wysocki all contribute backing vocals. The album was produced by Terry Date (Soundgarden, Deftones, Pantera) and Staind with co-production credits to Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit.

For more information check out the band's website at to let them leave an indelible mark on you.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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