Considering their increasingly mellow and melodic recent releases, Staind’s seventh album is a shockingly crushing tour de force. The Springfield, Massachusetts, trio has dragged its now familiar mix of Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and old-school Korn back through the gnarled metal grinder that spit out their first two albums, 1996’s Tormented and 1999’s Dysfunction. Clearly pissed, frontman Aaron Lewis punctuates his emotive croon with a long-neglected gut-wrenching scream, while lead guitarist Mike Mushok rips out several respectable solos. Standouts include opener “Eyes Wide Open,” with its “Mudshovel”-like bass rumble, the caustic “Not Again,” and the Tool-esque track "The Bottom.” A welcome surprise. JEREMY BORJON
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