The Illusion Of Progress Review

artist: Staind date: 10/27/2008 category: compact discs
Staind: The Illusion Of Progress
Released: Aug 19, 2008
Genre: Alternative Rock, Hard Rock, Post-Grunge
Label: Flip/Atlantic/Roadrunner
Number Of Tracks: 13
It was produced by Johnny K and recorded in the home studio of vocalist Aaron Lewis, with the original band line-up, including Mike Mushok, Jon Wysocki and Johnny April.
 Sound: 7.2
 Lyrics: 8.2
 Overall Impression: 7.6
 Overall rating:
 7.9 
 Reviewer rating:
 7.7 
 Users rating:
 8 
 Votes:
 69 
 Views:
 477 
reviews (5) 23 comments vote for this album:
overall: 8
The Illusion Of Progress Reviewed by: Dyuha, on august 28, 2008
3 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: 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. // 8

Lyrics: 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. // 8

Overall Impression: 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! // 8

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overall: 5.7
The Illusion Of Progress Reviewed by: EVANescence1500, on august 28, 2008
2 of 4 people found this review helpful

Sound: For those of us who hoped that the arrival of The Illusion of Progress would bring with it the Staind of old, an ode to the Dysfunction days, and a resurrection of the sound that many of us initially fell in love with, that day is not today, and judging by the sound of The Illusion of Progress, it looks as though that day will never come. Despite how we may wish to reverse time, have some say in the matter, or what have you, it has seemed(for quite some time now) that the Staind of years past was becoming just that, the past. As far back as 2003's 14 Shades of Grey, the signs of dwindle and decay were evident, and have become increasingly more noticeable in every follow-up album since, (present album included) leading many(including myself) to speculate that this decay of sorts was not a question of if, but when, and it feels as though the arrival of The Illusion of Progress cements the idea that that time is now. Before I go any further however, let me be clear here, in terms of decay, I am in no way referencing the band themselves or questioning their unity, because evidently they seem to be going as strong as ever, I am referencing their drastic change in sound over the years, and in essence, the "decay" of the sound of old. Another thing that I want to make clear is that their new sound is not neccessarily horrible, it will no doubt gain them a wider audience, but the reality is that along with the prospect gaining potential new fans, there is also the risk of losing old ones. With that said, speaking as an older fan (since the Dysfunction days), it seems as though all of our dreams of seeing a resurgence of the Staind of old will never be realized(although there will always be a part of me that wll hope) and will remain instead a pleading cry that falls upon deaf ears, an ideal that will never be attained, a yearning that will never be satisfied, and a hope that will never be fulfilled. As far as the music itself is concerned, personally, I found this area of the album to be a complete and utter letdown, but again, this is entirely dependent upon perspective, it drives at the very heart of the new fan/old fan debate, but since I am the one writing this review, I will state my impressions and leave any further debate for later discussion. Let me begin here with the music itself, first of all, the most obvious aspect being the fact that each and every song was catered to an incredibly grueling(and at times unbearable) slow tempo, so much so that the entire album consists of nothing more then what seems like poppy ballads. Whilst I was sitting and listening to the album, I kept hoping against hope that perhaps, just perhaps, the next track would deliver with the heavily distorted guitars of old and rid me of the endless swarm of radio friendly ballads that I was constantly being bombarded with. With every progressing track and consequently, every progressing disappointment, the realization dawned on me as I was nearing the end of the album that the track that I had been waiting for may never come, and to my utter horror, it never did. To put this into perspective here, there were times as I was listening to this album that I literally had to look at the album cover that lay beside me to make sure that it was in fact Staind that I was listening to, and even as I looked at my album cover for confirmation that it was in fact Staind, I was still in utter disbelief, and frankly, I still am. The change in sound that is present on this album is so incredibly drastic that it seems almost unfathomable, even Mike Mushok's attempts at inserting intricate guitar parts and solos seems completely out of place in the songs in which they are played. Though it could be seen as a valiant attempt by Mushok, the extra guitar work seems completely uncharacteristic of him and the sound that he has created over the years, and ultimately, it just doesn't seem to fit in the overall scheme of things. However, it does not end there, to me, the biggest shocker comes towards the end of the album, in which gospel sounding backing vocals are present, which is not to say that I disrespect gospel music and it's fans, but never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine such vocals making their way onto a Staind track, and the combination of the two just doesn't work what'soever. // 4

Lyrics: In terms of lyrical content, Aaron Lewis is arguably one of the most, if not the most giften and influential lyricists of this generation, and in that regard, he does not dissapoint. His lyrics are delivered in the Aaron Lewis fashion that many of us have become accustomed to, from the heart, and with great depth, meaning, and significance. And even though one may not be very fond of the band's latest effort, one cannot deny the lyrical genius that Aaron Lewis is. As far as lyrics themselves are concerned, there does seem to be a concious effort to keep with the trend of albums past (14 Shades, Chapter V) which is to take the negative lyrics of old, and transform them, such that they keep their original essence, but at the same time, reflect and conjure thoughts and images of a significantly more positive light, and nowhere is this trend more evident then on this album. Take for example, the album's opening track "This Is It" in which Aaron sings: "This is it, and it fits, and it feels like this is good enough for me, could it be that the grass is always green" or on the track "Tangled Up In You" in which Aaron sings: "You're the fire that warms me when I'm cold, You're the hand I have to hold as I grow old, You're the shore when I am lost at sea, You're the only thing that I like about me" As is visibly clear in these short excerpts, there exists a distinct departure from the angrier, angst-driven lyrics of old, and whether one sees this departure as growth, or an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream audience, that issue is entirely up for debate here, though, regardless of which side of the fence you are on, there is no denying the fact that the lyrics themselves posses a much more positive outlook then was present on previous albums. // 8

Overall Impression: With regard to my overall impressions of The Illusion of Progress, it seems to be rather one sided, and even that is a tremendous understatement, it is rapidly shaping up to be one of those things that you either love or hate, with no middleground existing between the two. Though, this is not entirely unexpected, with such a drastic change in sound as this, it is bound to thrill some, while at the same time, alienate others, and that decision, with regard to where one stands, is completely up to the individual making that distinction. And with that said, this is where I shall leave it, because though I do not particularly approve of the musical direction that Staind has taken, there is no denying the impact that their earlier material has had on me, and the influence that this band has had on my life over the past decade, and regardless of what happens, they will always have my respect. With that said, if this album were lost/stolen, I would not buy it again. And as a final note, I feel as though the title of this album poses a very interesting question, which is: Is The Illusion Of Progress, quite literally, an illusion of progress? You decide. // 5

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overall: 9.7
The Illusion Of Progress Reviewed by: fifftysor49, on august 28, 2008
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Staind's newest CD, "The Illusion of Progress" shows the experience that Staind has. The songs are mostly very soft and have a melodic sound showing that Staind can basically play any style of rock. In my opinion every album gets better and better. The sound is much more mature sounding. The vocal talent is enough to impress anyone fans of Staind and non-fans alike. Mike and Johnny work well together to create perfect mix of bass and guitar riffs and Jon's drumming is still very impressive. // 10

Lyrics: Aaron's lyric writing skills are unbelieveable. Each song on the CD has very poetic and meaninful lyrics. Aaron has also improved greatly vocally, which I found hard to believe because he was already amazing. 01. This Is It - absolutely the perfect opener. It has a real strong guitar riff in the intro and immediately turns into soft melody verse and right back into a very powerful chorus. Awesome bridge riff too. 02. The Way I Am - is Aaron being very honest about himself and admitting he is not perfect, but at the same time doesn't want you to change him. 03. Believe - very good single and mainstream popularity already, "Believe"'s structure is reminiscent to that of "Right Here". 04. Save Me - has very good chord progression during the verse. One of the songs has a harder chorus. 05. All I Want - very well put together song. The chorus is amazing. 06. Pardon Me - the lyrics are great. The song has a ballad feel to it. 07. Lost Along The Way - great drum intro. Jon always does a very impressive job of accenting the music. The end is incredible, the overlapping vocals and harmonization that Aaron puts out is so awesome it makes me listen to that part of this song over and over. 08. Break Away - my personal favorite off the album. Probably the hardest song on the whole album. The chorus riff is great. 09. Tangled Up In You - definitely shows off Aaron's singing. This song is the "Epiphany" of this album. "Epiphany" followed "Can't Believe" which was "Break the Cycle's" hardest track. "Tangled up in you" follows "Break Away", which is the hardest on this album. 10. Raining Again - Mike's solo rocks! 11. Rainy Day Parade - another nice hard rock song with really good well written lyrics. 12. The Corner - a gospel style ballad that Aaron shows his tue talent. 13. Nothing Left To Say - good song but it should have been switched with "Rainy Day Parade" so that it could have ended with a hard rock strong ending. // 9

Overall Impression: Buy this CD if you like the softer side of Staind. Although there is some hard rock songs, the ones who love "Dysfunction", and "Break the Cycle" will probably not like this side of Staind as much as the did when they played hard rock/metal, but if you like "14 Shades of Grey" and "Chapter V" you will most likely love this CD as much as I did. So out and get the Limited Edition version of this album to get 3 bonus songs "It's Been Awhile," "Devil," and "Schizophrenic Conversations." Staind is definitely progressing. // 10

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overall: 7
The Illusion Of Progress Reviewed by: Powerhouse, on august 28, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Although the album has it's share of strong, radio-friendly tracks, the title of Staind's sixth album is unfortunately fitting. If you've heard any number of Staind's big singles on the radio, you probably know their signature sound: slow, sometimes acoustic intro that leads into a soft first verse which then proceeds into a crashing, sing-along chorus, all complemented with self-obsessed, brooding lyrics. If that's what you're looking for with Staind, nothing more or less, then this album is right up your alley. The album's opener, "This is It," begins with a drum kick that leads into a big, heavily distorted guitar riff, which immediately falls back so that Aaron Lewis's voice can step in for the first verse. As always, the first single must appear within the first three to four tracks of the album, and in this case, it's track 3, "Believe." A good song in it's own right, but it sounds almost as if Staind is actually afraid to take risks and try something new. it's as if they've found their place in the gigantic music industry, have been greeted with some pretty good success for it, and are now afraid to let go of it in fear that they might be rejected. By track five or six, it becomes obvious that the "Dysfunction-era" Staind is a thing of the past. Nearly ever song on this album would've been called a "ballad" if one of them was placed on Break The Cycle or Dysfunction. // 6

Lyrics: The good news is: Aaron Lewis, a husband and father of three daughters, has matured, no longer whining about his troubled childhood (as much as he used to, anyway) or his lack of social skills. The bad news is, the new, mature Aaron gets a little boring at times. He does try some new sounds with his matured lyricism: "Tangled Up In You," written for his wife, is a very soft, sensitive song, that almost has a country feel to it with its use of a slide guitar. And "The Corner" sounds like it's backed with a church choir. This adds a bit of color to an album that is otherwise as gray as a thunderstorm. Vocally, it's amazing that Aaron's persistent smoking habit hasn't caught up to him yet, because he's as strong as always with his singing. // 8

Overall Impression: This albums, in a nutshell, is typical Staind. It's a step in no particular direction, just another album. If I could compare this to a previous work, it's probably closer to 14 Shades of Gray than anything else. Don't expect to headbang or mosh to any of the tracks here. This is the sound of a band doing what they do best and making little effort to shock or surprise anyone. If you expect anything more than catchy, thoughtful modern rock, look elsewhere. // 7

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overall: 8
The Illusion Of Progress Reviewed by: JerSim94, on october 27, 2008
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: The Illusion of Progress follows the same principle of Chapter V and Dysfuction. Every song sounds very similar. The Way I am is led into by This Is It, and if you were to listen to those at the same time, you would notice that they have the same chord structure. G, B, D, and A augmentations are flying everywhere in every song, so it is easy to get into it, and the songs will get stuck in your head. The CD was created on account of singer Aaron Lewis coming up with some good lyrics, and since they had no idea when they would make their next album, they all came together to make Illusion in early-mid 2008. Staind uses the full-song distortion, and their trademark acoustic intro to distorted verse style. Though the songs have the same basic chord structure, the album is still easy to get into, because of the fantastic solos, or because you get a good feeling from either the majestic guitar playing, or the words themselves. And, like I just stated, the guitarplay in this album is awesome. // 8

Lyrics: The lyricism of Illusioin is the basic pissed-off mentality of Aaron Lewis, sent to you in a naturally easy-going way. There is an expletive in every song, but what really good band hasn't thrown around a couple of words before? The lyrics and music go along, like they always do with Staind, like bread and butter. Aaron Lewis can go from edgy, low tones to a long strain of high notes in this album. He truly shows talent that we have heard before in such albums as Break the Cycle. // 8

Overall Impression: Illusion isn't one of a kind, but it is a great album. If you liked Cold, Smashing Pumpkins, and/or Audioslave, then you will enjoy Illusion a lot. The most impressive songs from the album are The Way I am, just from the beautiful lyricism, Believe, because it reminds you of vintage Staind, which I, personally, can't get enough of, and Save Me, just because of the interverted chords that Staind never really uses. I love the good sounds that you can only get from Staind, but I hate the fact that it is $11.99 on i-Tunes. It is certainly worth it, but for people that like Staind, you should atleast make it a fair price. If it were stolen or lost, which is impossible because I would never let it out of my sight, then yes, I would buy it again. All depending on how much $ I have in my wallet. // 8

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