Release Date: May 20, 2003
Reviewed by Sonya Sutherland
I had great hopes for Staind’s latest release 14 Shades of Grey and I am pretty certain that majority of the title word play referring to the blandness of this album has been written. Staind has been moving toward a mellower feel with every album and that doesn’t necessarily have to doom them.
Their first album, Dysfunction, was hard hitting, full of angst, and emotionally impactful. Break the Cycle sold millions of copies with good reason. Although it was a little over produced, it maintained the previous angst with an added element- Staind grew as songwriter and provided a wider spectrum of expression. They brought melody and acoustics to the disheartened ballads without sacrificing the heavier side of their sound
Now with 14 Shades of Grey, Staind seems to have lost focus. This album is mediocre at best. Its not mediocre because Aaron Lewis has lost his traded anger for hope but because Staind hasn’t found a way to express their new more positive vibe in a musical manner.
Lewis writes inspirational lyrics, he always has found a way to paint his thoughts in a very touching way. Its not that he’s lost his ability as a writer, in fact some of the songs (like fray, price to pay, could it be) are very strong lyrically. It seems though that Lewis and his band are not on the same page. The drums are not heavy or varied enough and the soaring guitars have a vibe eerily reminiscent of Creed. The choruses are where it all sees to fall apart- they are sonically un-inspirational and seem to all sound similar.
Lewis and friends had built their reputation on providing a product you look for when you get upset or want some sort of comfort- unfortunately 14 Shades of Grey doesn’t carry on the tradition. Giving the hint of a good album by opening with Price to Play and then failing to follow up some how seems to make it worse. Perhaps the guys got lucky with there first two, or maybe Staind is just in a slump. Hopefully they find their way back to making more impactful music. PS stop singing about your kid Aaron. Or maybe save it for the B-sides.