Sound — 10
Staind, as a band, is in a field of its own. The main reason I bought this album was because of the rock version of "Outside", and I wasn't disappointed. Staind is one of the few bands that combine heavy, heavy and moody music with melody - putting them closer to alternative/heavy rock field than new metal. The guitarist Mike Mushok helps achieve an individual sound, along with Aaron Lewis's distinctive vocals, by downtuning his electric baritone guitar in a fashin of a seven-string without the top string (high-e). This allows for a very distinctive kind of sound, making your usual distorted chords sound like they've went through several gain channels in sequence and then were loaded with lead. The guys in Staind are also a master of contrast and dynamics. The songs on the record are well-varied with heavy songs relieved by the more easy-listening ones. Some songs contain light, melodic, clean verses, turned into musical mayhem at the choruses. Mike doesn't use solos. But he doesn't need to, as the band's sound is more reliant on rhythm guitar techniques. Still, the melody is present and in great force on this gret record.
Lyrics — 10
The thing that struck me most on Break The Cycle was the darkness of the lyrics. Aaron Lewis paints a real dark, sad and moody picture, complemented very well by the music - sadness in the verses, anger and frustration, pain and revenge in the choruses. Apart from being a good singer, Aaron is also gifted with a unique voice that makes the band sound unique - I can always recognize Staind when I hear something new. Lyrics very well written and have a strong emotional quality.
Overall Impression — 10
Although people nowadays like to lump most up-and-coming (or, in fact any bands with sound heavier than alternative-rock) acts into nu-metal category, it is evident that Staind is in a category all of its own. It doesn't sound like anything else I've heard (although I've heard some compare them to Creed and similar - that's if you only listened to It's Been Awhile), the sound is fresh and mean and heavy - but at the same time melodic. I'm a proud owner of all three Staind albums, and if any were lost, I'd definitely get all three again. And so should you. Some songs that you won't like at the start just grow on you - catchy, heavy, melodic, just plain good. Just go and buy it, dammit!