To listen to Staind is to discover something deep and something meaningful on many levels. Some might excuse this band as another bunch of Durst prodigies just looking for their big break as soon as they can escape from beneath his heavy, sweaty armpit. But that is simply not the case. A closer examination of the art of Staind will expose gut-wrenching stories given to the listener via Staind’s heavy-hitting, and sometimes hard-to-swallow songs (not to mention their powerful live performances). This is music that deserves a much longer moment in the spotlight than the band have been given thus far.
Staind’s first effort, a record called Tormented was incredulously all but ignored by mainstream rock media as the band was still fairly unknown to many. Dysfunction, the band’s major debut, emerged in the shadow of a massive tour with Korn, and was yet another chilling compilation of songs that finally hit home with many of their new fans causing several of us to go digging for earlier work. Perhaps with the giant leap (and even larger sound) of their new release, Break the Cycle (Warner/Elektra) Staind will have their chance to finally shine and revel in the light. Especially since they are embarking on a killer tour with their artistic soulmates, COLD. This is truly a match made in Heaven. Thank you, booking angels.
But let’s focus on what Staind brings to the table. Or perhaps to the psychiatrist’s couch. 28-year old Aaron Lewis is one to write autobiographically, and prophetically. As much as music can be sonic therapy for those who create it, it can also be of help to those who consume it. Aaron knows this. “It’s like I’m finally seeing a little light at the end of a 28-year-old tunnel. I hope that what I’ve written will help the kids listening to it have an easier time figuring out things in their own lives.”
After listening to the CD as a whole, it’s easy to understand the message behind Break The Cycle; an obvious metaphor and a bit of a journey into Aaron Lewis’ life and his plans to live it in an emotionally (and most likely financially!) healthier way. However, as a true Staind fan, the listener may have a bit of diffulty following Aaron Lewis’s new path. Unfortunately, quite often the worst of times in an artist’s life produce the very best work.
The somber new single, “It’s Been A While“, is a welcome back to the Staind sound. The track has, unfortunately, already been played to death on stations like KROQ and even L.A.’s AOR station, Star 98.7 and has just enough of that mass appeal that could quite possibly make a fundamentally “dark” band like Staind a household name. But who knows if MTV pop land is going to do this band justice. It’s a gorgeous song, and one that truly depicts Staind as artists. The band sounds lush and smooth, and vocally, Aaron effortlessly soars. But those who are new to Staind should be warned. They may not be ready for something this heavy. MTV and radio certainly do not properly prepare them for it.
Singles are typically deceiving. If a new listener expects Break The Cycle to be a record that is chock full of ballads and slow, melodic tracks; they have another thing coming. Although the band has revealed a “softer” and more hopeful side of themselves lyrically, this new release will dish out plenty of balls-out heaviness, which is highlighted on tracks like the searing “Can’t Believe” in which Aaron practically screams his vocal chords right out. Other tracks hit home in a way that only Staind can. Give a listen to “Waste” to get a good idea of this. Just don’t forget to have your kleenex nearby. Aaron Lewis is not only questioning life on this track, but he seems to be pointing the finger at himself and asking those questions as well.
Something tells me this record is going to make Staind’s fans think more than brood. Maybe they will make things happen for themselves after listening, instead of feeling helpless. And maybe they will get mad, but think twice before they get even. Perhaps by sending this message, Aaron Lewis and the boys in Staind have found their calling. Note to self: Would love to sit cross-legged on the floor with Aaron Lewis and have a drink or two, and a nice long talk.