Sound — 9
The band itself sounds like you'd expect a band in the early-to-mid 90's to sound like: dirty, hairy, musky. I mean, listening to the slow, steady chord progression of the opening song, "Dead & Bloated," in it's pre-chorus, just gives you a great feel for how the rest of the album is going to be. The driving, muddy guitar, combined with the really heavy, Bonham-esque drumming, just sets up a great mood for everything else to follow, especially as the opener segues into "Sex Type Thing," one of the album's heaviest, most distorted songs. What do I get from all this great, epic songwriting on Scott Weiland and Robert De Leo's part? I get a faceful of fuzz-orientated grunge rock that sounds like the stuff a good college radio plays. But this album is a prime example of how varied the supposed "grunge" genre can be; I get a bunch of crap from people when I claim I love grunge, and lots of people say it all sounds the same. This album could possibly be one of the more unique albums from the genre, as Scott Weiland gives some excellent baritone vocals, evoking very a pretty bluesy mood through most of the songs (see "Creep"), while simultaneously incorporating a sort of yelling into most of the songs ("Naked Saturday" is a great example of this). All the while, drummer Eric Kretz produces some outstanding Led Zeppelin impersonations, and De Leo follows a chord regiment of much more than a simple vocabulary of power chords and nonsense solos. Overall, the moment I listened to this album, I knew the Stone Temple Pilots were something very special. They are somehow more than a simple grunge band, and on this album show a great modern feel for social commentary ("Sex Type Thing" and "Crackerman") while keeping some of the older musical traditions of early punk energy.
Lyrics — 8
The lyrics are, like I said, pretty good at commenting on social issues that plague this modern age. The biggest exmaple of that, "Sex Type Thing," talks about how we adopt an attitude of mastery towards women, utilizing a very morbid rape metaphor: "I am, I am, I am, I said I wanna get next to you, / I said I'm gonna get close to you, / You wouldn't want me to have to hurt you, too, hurt you too... " The lyrics, if not commenting on something of that sort, seems to be on a sort of trip, dealing with love, just like 95% of the total songs ever written in the history of man. But the frontman, Weiland, does a good job of revitalizing the old theme of a faile love in his classic "Plush": "And I feel, so much depends on the weather, / So is it raining in your bedroom? / And I see, that these are the eyes of disarray. / Would you even care? " So Weiland has talent writing lyrics. As far as his singing goes, he is phenomenal. He gives some of the most raw, unrestrained performances on this album, ranging from all out yelling of "Naked Staurday" to the soft, simple crooning of "Creep." Really, the only other singers I've seen that come close to Weiland's vocal style are Layne Staley and Eddie Vedder. In a sense, Weiland is a combination of the two, with both of the singers' blues-rooted emotion, and Vedder's low, indiscernible enunciation that sometimes pervades the clarity of the lyrics. A nice touch that Weiland has is extensive use of a megaphone on tracks like "Crackerman" and "Sex Type Thing."
Overall Impression — 10
Like I've already said, the Stone Temple Pilot's first studio album is a pretty unique grunge album, with overtones from other grunge bands like Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam, along with Zeppelin and even the Beatles, with a reference to their song "Yesterday" in STP's "Creep." My personal favorite song, as it has the most energy an the most driving opening guitar and drums in the entire album has got to be "Crackerman." These guys really know how to kick out a balls nasty riff when they need to, as this song shows. The dissonant chords before each verse really help the mood too; they sort of offset the beat, creating a unique atmosphere between the opening and verse riffs. Really, I cannot hate this album. I mean, maybe Weiland's vocals were cut and paste on almost every heavy song here (with yelling and the cliche fading into the mike before the occasional verses), and maybe the solos on these songs are few and far between. But these are all fine by me; the songs are fine as they are, and Weiland's vocals themselves are so good, they are virtually indestructible (that is, until Velvet Revolver... ) This album is pretty awesome, so I'd buy it again if it got stolen, most certainly. If you don't have it, maybe you ought to buy it too. Seriously, stop reading this review and check this shit out!