The Illusion of Progress

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Release date: August 19th, 2008
Genre: alternative rock

The release that was deemed the worst effort we've seen from Staind has its ups and downs. A bad effort? I didn't find it so. Is it the illusion of progress? No, the band's sound is progressing- just not in the way their fans thought ideal.

"This Is It": Starts the album off strong, with fairly provocative lyrics. "Here we are; there's nowhere else to go..." They're really thrown at the listener in a rough, gritty manner. One of my favourites, long as I don't tire of Aaron Lewis's overly strained phrases.

"The Way I Am": I'm in love with the intro to this song, especially after the opening track. We're reintroduced to the familiar voice and annunciation. While the guitar riffs are heavy, the other components to the song maintain an uplifting motion that lingers through the entire album. In contrast, the accompaniment cuts away at the bridge leaving the vocals vulnerable and exposed.

"Believe": When this single first came out, it was a friend who introduced the video to me. I can recall trying my best to adopt the sweetness that wasn't meant for this post-grunge destruction. A few weeks went by before it grew on me, but it did and that's what counts.

"Save Me": Taking on a much slower tempo than its predecessors, drummer Jon Wysocki's executes his part tastefully while being strictly controlled- you can sense it. Somehow he always turns simple rhythms into a work of art. I adore Lewis's soft falsetto towards the end between his frequent "for the fuck of it"'s.

"All I Want": So far I haven't noticed this lack of heavy rock, but this would be it if I had to pick one track. "All I Want" is severe; it could easily have been written and recorded by any straight-rock band. There's no subtle darkness or other defining Staind characteristics to be found.

"Pardon Me": I'm not a fan of the echoing vocals here- it falls short of syncopation and there is too much delay to be in time. 5:03 minutes of staying unchecked in my library.

"Lost Along The Way": A nice guitar melody to begin with, setting itself by repetitions. The accompaniment plays as an equal to the vocals, even at the bright chorus. (What enlightening lyrics, too.) Actually, I might say that the lead guitar is highlighted in the latter half of the song. A solid keystone to hold down the fort.

"Break Away": Why does this track remind me of Linkin Park? Oh, must be the spontaneous drops and the metallic transitions along with a ripping Chester Bennington pre-chorus. No, I'm not kidding- if asked to represent the band, do not choose this track. Otherwise, it's pretty cool.

"Tangled Up In You": This acoustic piece is so unexpectedly beautiful; I was not aware that they had it in them. Thank you, for contradicting everything Staind I enjoy and adding some welcome interest to that limited collection.

"Raining Again": I'm a little disappointed in the chorus. Just when we thought they were taking a new direction, the melodic theme takes an illegal U-turn right back towards generic ground. Oh, and what's that confused riff doing at the one-minute mark? It sounds suspiciously Breaking Benjamin-like.

"Rainy Day Parade": Apparently the memo about similar song titles on the same album was disregarded. However, this beats the absent originality in "Raining Again".

"The Corner": I was waiting for the riffs to enter, but they never did. For a moment of panic, I thought of country music. The rhythmic drumbeat saved me but that choir(?!) isn't helping.

"Nothing Left To Say": This entire album has a fair balance of grunge and classic components and a few quieter ballads. The fault is the same as past releases (or any post-grunge for that matter). The nature of such classification dictates raw angst and sacrifices refined emotion. "We've taken what's been given and we throw it all away."

The band is currently working on a 7th title. (official site)