Aaron Lewis has been in the news recently. He is touring in the U.S for his “Frayed At Both Ends” Country album, getting criticized for playing the same song at a gig twice and a few months ago he released a song called “Am I The Only One” in which he expressed his political views and questioned the patriotism of Bruce Springsteen.
Music industry blogger Bob Lefsetz didn’t like it and Lefsetz called out Lewis and his label boss Scott Borchetta. However Borchetta in an open letter back to Lefsetz, said that even though Lewis and Borchetta have opposing political views, Borchetta is not going to cancel or drop Aaron Lewis.
Moving away from “Politics 2021”, back in the early 2000’s, Lewis was busy writing and recording “Break the Cycle”, the third studio album by Staind. Released through Elektra and Flip Records in 2001, it is Staind’s most successful album to date, and it was the album that broke them into the mainstream.
Supported by Fred Durst who signed them to his Flip Records label originally, they had the fortunate or maybe unfortunate tag as Durst prodigies. The debut album, “Tormented” was ignored by the press, but Elektra wanted a piece of the action and “Dysfunction” is the result of major label support.
Then came “Break The Cycle”.
At 28 years of age, Aaron Lewis had lived and experienced enough sadness and happiness to put his life and thoughts into his lyrics.
A total of 5 singles were released from this album, “It’s Been Awhile”, “Fade”, “Outside”, “For You” and “Epiphany”, all of which did reasonably well.
On a side note, the album did cost $800K to make and Elektra along with Flip Records, just weren’t sure they would even get close to recouping.
But in its first three weeks, it sold over a million copies in the U.S. Currently it is certified 5x Platinum for U.S sales. In Canada and New Zealand it was certified 2x Platinum and in the U.K it was certified Platinum. In Australia and Sweden it was certified Gold.
And the label is still saying that Staind owe em money.
The band for the album is Aaron Lewis on Lead vocals and Rhythm guitar, Mike Mushok is on Lead Guitar, Johnny April is on Bass and Jon Wysocki on Drums.
Open Your Eyes
It’s like a Jekyll and Hyde. The lush strummed lightly dirty electric guitar which is the verse riff and part of the intro is calm and beautiful.
The riff that kicks in with the natural harmonics and downtuned riffing is aggressive and ugly. Sonically they just don’t go but the jarring difference works this time around.
Written by Staind and producer Josh Abraham.
It has metal like riffs and a verse that is very Grunge like.
One of their best songs.
The bass groove is great and the way the guitar decorates the spaces shows the skills of Mike Mushok.
And of course, Aaron Lewis is more than capable of crafting and carrying a vocal melody.
It’s Been Awhile
I suppose this was the song that got a lot of people to check out Staind and at 194.497 million streams on Spotify it’s remained in the conversation and the various playlists.
A huge metal like riff starts it off before the clean tone verses kick in.
The Pre-Chorus or is it the Chorus, feels like it could come from a Bush song.
Not a favourite. It sounds like the vocals are screamed through a loudspeaker and it does nothing for me.
An Aaron Lewis cut, as the acoustic guitar is prominent with a haunting vocal melody.
It’s a hard rock riff however the down tuning and phrasing makes it sound like it isn’t.
Warm Safe Place
It’s just down-tuned too much, that the riff sounds like a muddled mess.
My favourite track on the album.
That opening riff is good enough to challenge some of the best metal riffs from the 80’s.
Lewis again brings his acoustic guitar and melodies to the table.
The song has 95.057 million streams on Spotify.
A simple drum groove starts it off, almost jazz blues like. A clean tone guitar plays the riff and Lewis delivers his emotive vocal melody.
In the Chorus, the distorted guitar dynamic kicks in before it moves back to the subdued clean tone verses.
Another killer riff to start it off.
If there is a problem with the album, it’s the down tuning. On some songs it is excessive, to the point that it sounds muddled. But when they get it right, the songs elevate themselves and the slower acoustic pieces add a lot of variety.
Regardless of political alliances, Aaron Lewis does have a great voice. There are YouTube videos in which he covers “Black” by Pearl Jam and “Turn the Page” by Bob Seger live.
Lyrically, he’s copped a lot of flak for his lyrics to the point that people have called em depressive, but then again, no one said that life is all sunshine, happiness and smiling selfies in exotic locations.
Press play on this and start with “For You”.