Remember nu-metal? Come on, it was only a few years ago. Long before a hoodie became the epitome of anti-social behaviour, it was the uniform of Limp Bizkit fans, who were for a short time, one of the biggest bands in the world.
Fred Durst’s star has fallen somewhat from his heady days in the late ’90s, but his influence is still written large. Staind owe their career to Durst, as he was an early champion of the band and was responsible for introducing them to their record label boss.
The rest, as they say, is history, and albums such as Break The Cycle and Dysfunction have found a huge audience in the States. With the exception of the massive It’s Been A While single, they’re rather less well known in Britain.
So will Chapter V see them develop and gain any new fans? The answer is, sadly, a resounding no. From the opening guitar riff of Run Away, it’s plain what we’re going to get here – an hour or so of unrelentingly grim, self-pitying, depressing rock.
It’s understood that a Staind album is never going to be full of positive, life-affirming statements, but some of these lyrics are risible. “I’m dead inside, why don’t I care” complains lead singer Aaron Lewis, and it’s impossible not to agree with him.
Tracks such as Devil, Cross To Bear and Please continue this self-pitying mood, with Schizophrenic Conversations almost becoming a self-parody. “I’ll show you how it feels to be fucked up like me” promises Lewis over a backing that’s presumably meant to sound melodic and tender but just comes across as being a dirge.
Paper Jesus sees Lewis turning away from his personal troubles to focus on world affairs – blaming corporations for exploiting people’s fear. Again, the lyrics are dire, but the song is listenable mainly thanks to the furious change of pace which sees some fearsome guitar licks reminiscent of Metallica at their most mighty.
Yet Paper Jesus provides one of the few exciting moments on Chapter V. Elsewhere, it’s song after song of homogeneous, angst-ridden stuff. Lewis does have a decent voice but by the time Please rolls around you’re getting utterly sick of his whining. “I’m still wearing this miserable skin” he complains – is there no end to the torture of a multi-millionaire rock star?
Everything Changes at least tries to move away from the groaning, depressive rock, being a decent power ballad that will no doubt get those cigarette lighters going in stadia around the United States. It’s one of the few songs that sticks in the mind long after the album finishes.
Yet overall there’s just too much bland corporate sludge rock here to make any geniune lasting impression. Pearl Jam were doing this kind of stuff over a decade ago, but at least they did it with a modicum of style and talent. In 2005, apart from Staind’s hardcore fans, it’s difficult to imagine anyone shelling out for this dreary record. As the man himself says in Please: “can’t you see that I’m sick of this?”. You and me both, mate.