Since the fall of grunge, there's been an influx of bands who were, shall we say, ''pretenders to the thrown''. And many of the were that, minus the 'to the thrown' part, because not many at all could compare to the kings of yesterday. For every Nirvana, there's a Silverchair, for every Alice In Chains there's a Dust For Life...the list goes on. But Staind despite their fairly justified comparisons to angst-mongers Alice In Chains, were fairly fresh and sounding good.
Their first album was a turgid affair, that was very dirty indeed. The only vaguely 'sensitive' track on the album was the fearful 'Home' which could have fit in perfectly right here on Break The Cycle, because for Staind, their second album is pretty much all change. There's a lot more sensitive ballads and feeling and sense to it, and that will have attracted more of their audience as you can assume. The week I bought the album I was astounded to find the album at number 1 in the charts. This was due to the first single power-ballad 'It's Been Awhile' which is as good a slower grunge song, as you could have come across from the likes of AIC and Pearl Jam. And it also went to show that the people still love a good power-ballad, and 'It's Been Awhile' is one of the best in years for sure. And it's not on it's own, the album also contains the equally good 'Outside', and the disturbing 'Waste', which is dedicated to a dead fan, that just explodes in your face in all it's pained glory.
But don't get me wrong, this album is not one complete power ballad, which is a shame on a few of the songs. Second track 'Pressure' unfortunatly just doesn't seem to go anywhere, as does 'Warm Safe Place'....but there are some true crackers on here, such as the powerful opener 'Open Your Eyes', 'The weird but wonderful 'Fade', the pure rage of 'Can't Believe', the somber power of 'Epiphany', the chant-a-long 'Suffer', which contains a great chorus, and of course, the superb live acoustic version of 'Outside'.
When listening to this album, you have to just forget that Fred Durst signed these guys up, because it seems that none of the bands he's signed up, including the superb Cold, who you would also like if you like this, sound nothing like Limp Bizkit. There's no sign of any cringe-worthy rapping anywhere. And thank God because Staind are a genuine talent who don't need to be judged by that. They also don't need to be called sell-outs because they decided to write a few slower songs. There's never been anything wrong with trying new things, and although it is what they do best, I'm sure Staind will, with their brand new album 14 Shade Of Grey, prove to us all that they're just trying anything. Because this is a mixed album of hard, hard songs, and powerful ballads. And that's always been my cup of tea, and Staind are very easy to stomach if you care to try.