Rising out of the nu-metal scene, Staind flipped the sound's outward aggression inward, crafting hard-hitting ballads that would dominate alternative rock in the 2000s. Formed in 1995 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the band wore their influences—and their self-loathing—proudly. Vocalist Aaron Lewis, guitarist Mike Mushok, bassist Johnny April, and drummer Jon Wysocki gigged around the Northeast, covering artists like Korn, TOOL, and Alice In Chains, before self-releasing 1996's suicide-themed concept album, Tormented. The record's bloodied, crucifix-featuring cover art shocked many, including—according to legend—Fred Durst. The Limp Bizkit frontman soon came around when he saw them live and helped the band land a major-label deal. Staind's 1999 follow-up, Dysfunction, scored them a modest rock hit with the growling sucker punch "Mudshovel," but 2001's Break the Cycle is where they fully came into their own. Shedding their heavy nu-metal armor, the band leaned hard into melody, finding therapy in dense post-grunge ballads "It's Been Awhile" and "Outside," both devastating confessions of Lewis' struggles with depression and addiction. Over the next decade, his emotional journey would increasingly influence the band's sonic one: Acoustic-lined hits like 2003’s "So Far Away" twinkle with the slightest silver lining, while 2005's "Right Here" shudders with slippery riffs and Lewis' hesitation to let go of love. By 2011's self-titled seventh album, the band were on the rocks, and it shows in the loud-soft dynamics and headbanging ferocity within. Soon after, Wysocki departed, Lewis went solo—as a country singer—and Staind announced a hiatus. The next decade saw a few sporadic reunions and finally a promise to reclaim the alt-rock throne in the 2020s.
FORMEDNovember 24, 1995