The multi-platinum success of Staind's last set, Break the Cycle, has surely set the bar high for follow-up 14 Shades of Grey.

The multi-platinum success of Staind's last set, Break the Cycle, has surely set the bar high for follow-up 14 Shades of Grey. So high, in fact, that fans may be initially shocked upon hearing such new tunes as "How About You" and "Yesterday." Both are radio-friendly modern rock pieces—quite the opposite of the band's signature dark, throbbing sounds. These songs work, though, especially "So Far Away," where vocalist Aaron Lewis takes a new lyrical direction by singing a message of hope (instead of despair). Unfortunately, 14 Shades of Grey stumbles going into its second half. Here, too many tracks sound formulaic. But the band rocks with "Blow Away" and "Fill Me Up"; the latter should be sent to radio ASAP. Staind's tribute to the late Layne Staley, "Layne," is done in classic Alice in Chains style. Ultimately, 14 Shades of Grey delivers, making it a worthwhile purchase.—CLT

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