So this is what happens when post grunge meets nu metal? Good, I needed to know. Really, I did.
Imagine if you were a fan of post grunge and you were like “This just isn’t heavy enough some of the time (really, a tiny bit) and the way we should make it heavier is to look to Limp Bizkit” (rather than, you know, grunge).
Or, imagine you were into nu metal but you don’t like rap and you figured “Nu metal would be so much better with ballads!”
I don’t know what Staind sounded like on their earlier records but, on this one, they sound exactly like a cross between a generic post grunge band crossed with Limp Bizkit or Linkin Park or something like that. If that sounds like a bad combination it’s because it is. And it’s only something that could have been imagined (and, um, ridiculously successful) at the turn of the millennium.
Like any good post grunger singer songwriter, Lewis alternatively lectures the shit out of us and asks us for our sympathy. Like every post grunge singer songwriter, he seems to have missed the crucial component to the earnestness (real or otherwise) of grunge – you have to make good music to pull off the lyrical content. Are some of these songs catchy? I guess. “It’s Been Awhile” is one of those vaguely catchy post grunge ballads that was way more successful than makes sense. The rest of the album has some hooks that are, um, less compelling.
At their loudest, the band are louder than basically any post grunge band, because they have embraced nu metal tunings and baritone guitars. And their quietest, they are a post grunge band. Like every post grunge band, they believe the key to musical dynamics is to play acoustic guitars (or really soft electric guitars) and then to just turn up the distortion and volume as high as it can go – and drop down the tuning, in this case – and just hope for the best. It doesn’t matter if the riffs good!
It’s immaculately produced, because of course it is. I still don’t know how people grew up on alternative rock and figured the problem with alternative rock was how it sounded. Similarly, did the hop and metal bands that inspired nu metal need cleaning up? I guess so. This album is a textbook example of how excellent production cannot save you if your songs and sound suck. It just makes it worse. (Smart artists know this and burry their shitty songs under quirkiness!)
This is basically everything that was wrong with rock music at the turn of millennium. It went 5 times platinum in the US.