September 15, 2005

Can You Repeat That?

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Aaron Lewis sure likes to hear himself talk, even if he is saying the same thing over and over again. Listening to Staind’s new album Chapter V, I couldn’t help but notice how often lead singer Lewis repeats the same refrains throughout his songs. Take the opening track, “Run Away.” Lewis says the words “run away” a whopping 16 times. In “Paper Jesus,” Lewis also repeats the words “It’s what I need” 16 times. I don’t mean to sound like a five year old forced to read Thomas Hardy, but sometimes lead singers should just shut up. Lewis feels the need to dominate every second, often at the expense of Staind’s underrated guitarist, Mike Mushok.

Take the song, “Everything Changes” for example. This is one of the very few songs on the album in which Mushok is allowed to solo (maybe Mushok threatened Lewis with Reservoir Dogs-esque torture if he wasn’t allowed a small bit of glory). This small 45-second chunk is by far the most beautiful segment on the album (if you can call any music by Staind “beautiful”). The solo isn’t anything new; in fact it is very David Gilmour-ish (don’t kill me for making that comparison), which greatly enhances the song and shows Mushok’s aptitude. However, small moments like this are few and far between. Often times, Mushok is reduced to playing mundane power chords. In a couple of songs, Lewis appears to be fighting Mushok’s guitar playing by singing as hard as he can right as Mushock plays his power chords turned up to full volume.

The other two members in the band are barely even heard. In most of the songs, bassist Johnny April’s bass line is nonexistent, showing that bassists like Nirvana’s Krist Novoselic, who can benefit an album, are extremely rare. Drummer Jon Wysocki is mundane at best. For example, in the middle of the album opener, “Run Away,” Lewis actually shuts up for about ten seconds and Mike Mushok also quits his guitar. Perfect time for a great drum solo, right? Not for Jon Wysocki. Wysocki plays this “solo” softly and tentatively, with skill akin to the snare drum solo in my elementary school fourth grade concert band’s rendition of “Hot Cross Buns.”

Finally, while browsing through the utterly fascinating liner notes, I noticed that the “A & R” was done by Fred Durst. Any time that Fred Durst is in any way, shape or form involved with your album, you know that there’s a problem.

The album isn’t horrible. Single “Right Here,” seventh track “Please” and eighth track “Everything Changes” are all decent songs. Also, in this day and age, it is nice to hear any band with a capable guitarist. But if you want to hear a grunge band with more musical skill, go into the archives and listen to Alice in Chains.

Archived article by Michael Mix
Sun Contributor