Sound — 8
I must say, I'm rather impressed by Staind's attempt here. Upon the first listen, I just didn't feel enough of it, but a second closer look revealed a much more interesting and musical album than I anticipated and heard the first time. If you're a Staind fan, this is sure to please, and if you aren't, you will be soon. I feel that Staind has reached a very happy medium of distorted, guitar/bass-driven drop d songs and moved into a section of musicality that relies more on the talent of songwriting than that of the former. Although I must say, a rather large segment of the album is in drop d, and there are times when two songs seem to be the same thing, with the slightest of chordal variations. This is especially true of the first two songs; they sounded as one, to me at least. But then I reached the middle of the album. The record is mixed very well, and I top my hat to whomever selected the song order, it's very well done. Although it is somewhat classic, it moves well between harder songs and softer, more sentimental tracks. The real gems on this album are All I Want, Tangled Up In You, and Raining Again, and I can see more of these songs circulation in my iTunes library and, more importantly, on the radio. And I'd like to comment a little more on song flow; not only do the songs blend acoustic and heavy, but Staind does a good job of keeping the entirely acoustic songs apart from each other, avoiding monotony and keeping the listener involved throughout the duration of the record. From the beginning hard-rocking This Is It to the very pleasant Nothing Left To Say, The Illusion of Progress is music to my ears. Also, I am a fan of acoustic music and alternative music to begin with, and bringing this back to one of my earlier points, Staind has quite brilliantly merged the two not only within individual songs, but all across the board as well as in the mixing and song order. Well done, Staind.
Lyrics — 8
Well, those of you who know Staind know what their lyrical content is, and this is somewhat expectant of Staind, but I found the lyrics to be a bit more contemplative than normal Staind. The band has clearly put more thought into the words, and I'm feeling a bit more of an emotional connection to this album than I have with previous Staind albums. This is due in part to the music, but also in part to the vocals and lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
Not much more really needs to be said. Staind did an absolutely brilliant job, and this album lives up to the hype. I've been hearing about this album everywhere, and I'm glad that the record has met my expectations. Bravo Staind, keep up the good work, and I'm definitely looking forward to hearing what you have to put out in the future. If you can snag a copy of this, get it while you can, it's going to be HOT!