Staind – Confessions of the Fallen (Album Review)

To quote a leading lyric from Singer-Songwriter Aaron Lewis, “it’s been a while” since we have heard from Staind. Out of the New England region, Staind has been established for nearly three decades now, but made their big splash on the Alternative Metal scene in the early 2000s. Possessing a sound that was perhaps darker and emotionally deeper than any of their contemporaries, Staind first true introduction to the mainstream came with the release of 1999’s Dysfunctional; a record which featured such memory tracks that include “Mudshovel.”

Receiving a positive amount of fanfare, from here, you could really look to the 1999 Family Values Tour stop in Biloxi, Mississippi as a true turning point for Staind. Why? Because this when Aaron Lewis went on the stage by himself, while Limp Bizkit’s Fred Durst provided backing vocals, offering a raw introductory rendition of “Outside.” This moment in history was massive for Lewis and Staind, because this live recording received massive airplay on Rock stations across the USA, setting up a ground swelling of interest in the band leading up to their follow up album in 2001, Break the Cycle.

Naturally, Break the Cycle broke many things… including sales records for Staind on its way to becoming one of the biggest Rock releases in the early 2000s. From this point Staind steadily progressed, releasing a ton of great material – from 2003’s 14 Shades of Grey and 2005’s Chapter V to 2011’s self-titled album. Then, winds changed, original Drummer Jon Wysocki departed in 2011, and Staind went on a bit of a hiatus. A much-needed break for a band who had been hard at work touring and producing music for over sixteen years at that juncture, Lewis would find success in Country Rock, while Staind’s Lead Guitarist Mike Mushok would go onto to form Saint Asonia with Three Days Grace’s Adam Gontier, among others.

With this history considered, do not look now, but it has been twelve long years since Staind has released any new material. Hard to believe, but true, a spark of hope first arrived in 2021 when the band released the extremely well-received Live: It’s Been Awhile. Was this fool’s gold or was there a real chance of Staind recording new material once more? Well, the answers are sometimes in the stars, and Staind found inspiration to write and record yet again… leading us to their highly anticipated new studio album Confessions of the Fallen.

Released on Friday, September 22, 2023 through Alchemy Recordings/BMG, Confessions of the Fallen unites familiar friends, Lewis, Mushok, and original Bassist Johnny April, in the studio once more. Possessing a strong history together, the only difference is Drummer Sal Giancarelli, who has performed live with the band since 2011, is making his studio recording debut with Staind. An exciting time for fans, of course skepticism always comes with any band’s return after a long hiatus. Questions arise such as – will the band try to sound too modern?… or will the music feel insincere? Fortunately, Staind squashed any of these concerns promptly with the release of the blistering single “Lowest In Me” back in April. Hitting # 1 in active radio, the reaction was real because the track recaptured the signature sound of Staind, but yet still sounds fresh.

From here, Staind had carefully plotted out the release of new material; this included “Cycle of Hurting,” “In This Condition,” and most recently, “Here and Now.” With four of the ten songs that make up Confessions of the Fallen already familiar to fan’s ears, the balance of music is equally as potent and engaging in every capacity.

This includes the brief, but extremely powerful “Was Any Of It Real?,” and runner up for the album’s next radio single, “Out Of Time.”  There are also distinctive crunchy Staind guitars mixed with some new elements on “The Fray,” a ballad with “Better Days,” before more classic Staind emotion heard on “Hate Me Too.”

In all, Confessions of the Fallen seemingly goes by in the blink of an eye, and that is only because there are no moments which drag or lack substance. Each song is true to Staind’s roots, yet successfully harnesses the anxiety of their younger years into a mature, cathartic sound. Refreshing to hear a band who can show both progress in their songwriting and approach to creating, yet still remain grounded in who they are, Staind gives hope to the Alternative Metal scene. Not letting you down, and standing up next to albums such as Dysfunctional and Break the Cycle, Cryptic Rock gives Confessions of the Fallen 5 out of 5 stars. 

Staind – Confessions of the Fallen / Alchemy Recordings/BMG (2023)

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