Staind's 2001 sophmore album Break The Cycle was the biggest selling rock album released that year, selling over five million copies on the strenght of smash singles, most notably "It's Been Awhile." In addition, their Elektra debut Dysfunction, has sold nearly two million copies. Picking up that momentum comes their highly anticipated new album 14 Shades Of Grey, fourteen shards of sonic fury and introspective intensity, tempered by songwriting well beyond anything the band has achieved before. As a bonus, initial orders of 14 Shades Of Grey will include a free DVD featuring a home-movie documentary of the band's history since 1996, with exclusive live and behind the scenes footage from the studio, backstage nad everywhere in between.
The Beatles had the White Album, Metallica, a black album, and now Staind has its gray album. While lumped in with the often indistinguishable nu metal crowd, Staind stands out, thanks in part to memorable ballads, such as the pained and beautiful "It's Been A While" and "Epiphany" from the quartet's 2001 breakthrough Break the Cycle
. Their latest represents a natural progression; realizing the commercial potential of the poignant but heavy rock ballad, they've penned a slew of them. The light and cheery "How About You" is radio-ready, while the layered, string-backed "So Far Away," and honest and grateful musing on success, is another get-out-the lighters showcase for singer Aaron Lewis. Lewis's beautiful ode for his baby, "Zoe Jane," a tribute to late Alice in Chains vocalist Layne Staley ("Layne," which intentionally and effectively cops Alice's signature sound), and the grandiose thank-you note "Intro" are more strong, overtly introspective entries in Lewis' sometimes mushy, sometimes touching CD diary. --Katherine Turman