“The Illusion Of Progress” by Staind

Artist: Staind
Title: “The Illusion Of Progress”
Label: Atlantic Records
Release Date: 8/19/2008
Genre: Alternative Hard Rock
Rating: 3.5/5

I know that I was one of the first out of my circle of music friends who found themselves keyed into the melancholy despair that the guys in Staind were laying down on their incredible CD “Break The Cycle”. I had to admit that at the time they were a fresh sounding outfit to a listener like me who had grown tired of what the mainstream was offering the listeners who tuned in, but of course their blockbuster popularity would open the doors to far too many sub-standard acts who tried to be just as heavy while being just as solemn about it at the same time. After absorbing the greatness of tunes like “Outside” and “It’s Been Awhile” I found my own tastes changing and as result hardly followed the guys into their future releases “14 Shades Of Grey” and “Chapter V”, but when I heard samples of what was to be heard on “Illusion Of Progress” I found myself intrigued by a band who had taken what was deemed as their signature sound and had moved forward with it in a slightly more mature and musical fashion that I again found appealing. If you were one of those listeners that also stopped early on based on musical ideas changing and now wanted something similar to what the band is best known for then this is a solid release for no matter how hard one tries there is only so far from a signature sound that a band can move away from. As result a lot of the hooks and grooves that we found so tasty are here to enjoy again even though they are braving a little more in terms of the depth of the song structure. Singer Aaron Lewis still sounds in pain and suffering from some personal inner demons from time to time across the album but perhaps not as much as we found on the bands earlier catalog. To be honest if we found him singing about sunshine and rainbows many of the listeners would not feel this to be an honest album. There are songs that hold levels of promise such as “All I Want” which brews with a sense of positivity that I didn’t actually expect from such a band. There are a couple of the pre-requisite ballad type songs and this makes sense since the pair mentioned earlier in this review were songs that put these guys on the map. We find “Save Me” to be one such song and while its good it is hardly an “Outside” but in all fairness that is a tough track to easily top. I also found some appeal in “This Is It”, the albums rocking opener and “The Way I Am” since it possessed a different groove from what I had grown used to from the band.

The bands main single from the release is “Believe” and it’s another solid track that while offering an understood vibe from their past is not a dismal and gloomy track. I guess the best way to view “Illusion Of Progress” is by taking the stand that if you loved Staind in the past then this album continues to give you what you expected of the group with just a little bit more of a smile involved than ever before. They certainly have upped their game musically in their sound and offer a lot of melodies that show these guys can play a little better than others of their type. However, at this point in time I wonder where a band like Staind actually fits in across the larger scheme of things because the Alternative Rock movement has changed so drastically since they first came on the scene ten years ago. The Grunge Movement has run its course and the Metal fans no longer pay attention to anything on the radio these days and have opted to support their bands at live shows and via Satellite Metal stations. For the most part the lard that is sold to the mainstream radio listener as Rock today simply does not “rock” at all and while this album shows that Lewis still has a powerful voice and things to say with his band he might be a little pressed in finding people who actually want to listen to him say them. It’s not a bad album and I found it an easy one to sit through without losing any interest. Of course this was easy for me, as I have not followed the directives of corporate radio fat cats who tell me what is popular and what is not. Give this one a try if you always enjoyed them and a pass if you can’t stand the sound of them. It’s as simple as that.

Track Listing:
1. This Is It
2. The Way I Am
3. Believe
4. The Corner
5. Save Me
6. All I Want
7. Pardon Me
8. Lost Along The Way
9. Breakaway
10. Tangled Up In You
11. Raining Again
12. Talk
13. Rainy Day Parade

Official Website: http://www.staind.com

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