Well, one thing you’ll notice upon your first listen to Staind’s new album, “Chapter V,” is that frontman Aaron Lewis seems to have moved past the “high on life” attitude he toted throughout much of 2003’s ironically titled “14 Shades Of Grey.” Not to say he’s angry again, but gone are such sweet ballads as “So Far Away” and “Zoe Jane.” If “Chapter V” is like any Staind album, it’s probably best compared to “Break The Cycle.” Taking turns between moody, introspective ballads and raw, in your face cuts that are likely to inspire a moshpit. Although they are far from reinventing themselves, Staind take a little bit of their past, and update it, and mix it up with feelings of today. In the past,they took things to extremes. If you wanted to kill yourself, “Tormented” would be your soundtrack. If you finally found inner happiness, “14 Shades Of Grey” would be your cup of tea. “Chapter V” takes the challenge of balancing all those emotions. From low lows, to high highs, all the bases are covered on this one album. I think it’s safe to say that Staind have created an album that will appeal to most everyone.
With David Botrill (Tool, Silverchair) producing, and with guitarist Mike Mushok sporting a lush head of hair, Staind are back. “Chapter V” begins with one of the best, “Run Away,” which takes things to a new level for the group. Mushok’s guitar parts are more expressive than ever, and truly define this one song. It’s a perfect way to kick off things, with a song that carries so many dynamics, much like the entire album itself. Fans of the group will find familiar fare in the mid-tempo, semi-ballads “Right Here” and “Schizophrenic Conversations,” but the group truly reaches it’s peak with the mezmerizing and touching “Everything Changes.” On the other end of the spectrum, “Paper Jesus” and “Falling” will most likely appease fans of “Tormented” or “Dysfunction.” It’s important to note that the lyrical content of this album takes things in a whole new direction. Aaron seems to be a bit more ambiguous this time around with his messages, which is actually quite refreshing, from someone who wore his feelings on his sleeve for four albums prior. The tone of the album is neither negative, nor positive. Yes, the man found happiness, as was well documented on the last album, but he obviously still is living on planet Earth and still has things on his mind, which is what “Chapter V” is all about. It’s not whiney, it’s not preachy. It’s not angry, it’s not joyful. It is quite simply, human.
While the album as a whole isn’t perfect, it is still a five star album in my eyes, for it takes Staind to a whole new level. Now, at their fifth album (wow, time flies), they seem to be settling into a comfort zone, where they can handle all dynamics, where they are above and beyond the competition. The musicianship on here is excellent, a notch above, and Aaron’s vocal deliver is stellar as always. Anyone who has followed Staind this far will find much cause for celebration with this album.