Grunge veterans Staind have had a colourful history. From the guttural power of the debuting Tormented to the eclectic charm of The Illusion of Progress, the Massachusetts quartet have proven to the globe that they are a songwriting force to be reckoned with.
In 2010 the group vouched to “return to their roots” for the third time, and their fanbase responded with justified pessimism. However, Staind’s self-titled seventh effort is a powerful mix of baritone ballads and harnessed angst which admirably fulfils their indicated criteria. Despite vocalist Aaron Lewis expressing concerns that he’s “said it all before”, he explores new territory on ‘Wannabe’ where he preaches to the masturbating ‘trolls’ of the virtual world with rap, guttural screams and punchy melodies. However, while Lewis delivers his innermost thoughts with flawless vocal techniques, familiar lyrical ground is trodden on tracks like ‘Throw It All Away’ and ‘The Bottom’, which will instil a sense of déjà vu for any Staind fanatic.
Guitarist Mike Mushok reintroduces his signature baritone from the quartet’s earlier efforts, which provides the chunky detuned riffs that drive most of the album’s tracks. ‘Paper Wings’ broadcasts the lower registers of his creative repertoire and creates a thick soup of nutritious riffage which defecates over an otherwise delicate title. The album closes with the haunting ‘Something to Remind You’, where Lewis croons over a solitary sparse guitar accompaniment with a piece of melancholy poetry.
While Staind may visit a lot of familiar territory and lack the nervous angular energy of Tormented and Dysfunction, it is a nostalgic journey through the group’s past compilations and a welcome addition to any hard rocker’s collection.