Staind’s newest album The Illusion of Progress, is aptly named. The music that Aaron Lewis presents on one of the most hyped albums of 2008 is merely average. After struggling to strike a good balance between their traditional alternative metal genre and the acoustic ballads, it features more of the latter. Staind is a band that is quickly evolving and (hopefully) understanding their future, which is clearly in acoustic ballads, and possibly the country genre.
One of the biggest parts of this album that does stray away from the mainstream is Lewis’ cut of “Tangled Up In You.” It is one of the best songs on the project, though many casual listeners may mistakenly classify it as a country song. It is well delivered in an acoustic manner, but it may turn off many Staind fans who enjoy his more traditional, alternative-metal based style.
The rest of the songs are somewhat forgettable, as they fall back into traditional Staind-type sound. The opening track “This Is It,” provides a good pace and rhythm to open the album, but it is hardly anything new and sounds like past albums. Complete with screamed vocals and all, Staind misleads many listeners into believing that the album will feature more of the same.
The middle tempo songs on the album come with powerful lyrics but fail to leave a satisfying impact on any listener. “Break Away” is one of the better tracks, in this regard. “Believe,” already released to radio, is a nice laid-back listen, but fails to truly influence the listener. The song does feature several characteristics of traditional Staind music, however.
Staind makes a real attempt at more progressive alternative metal, though it’s impact on similar bands and listeners is yet to be determined. All in all, the album is a very average listen, and much of the success for the tracks will be seen in the near future as Aaron Lewis releases them to the radio.