This has to be one of the most apt titles in rock history. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the colour grey is described as being 'dull and nondescript', perfect for this tiresome new opus from America's enormous alterno-metal demigods. The thing is there are really only two shades of grey here. The first - all grinding, muscular, angst-ridden riffage complete with anthemic arena pleasing choruses - is slightly faster than its more acoustic tinged companion.
Frontman Aaron Lewis clearly still has 'issues' despite becoming a multi-million dollar success story. His monotonous moaning punctuates each lifeless dirge emphatically in the way of uniformity but little in personality. Humourless and workmanlike he makes Thom Yorke come across like Coco the Clown when unloading lyrics like: "I no longer relate to this world of hate. That's forced upon my plate." He really should consider having the word intense tattooed across his permanently frowning forehead.
When Lewis yawns out, "Open wide for all the sh*t they feed you, while the TV defecates, and blindly walk wherever they lead you, while the edges slowly fray," the urge to grab one of the speakers and violently shake it while screaming, "for God's sake man, get over it," is uncontrollable.
It seems that life in general disagrees with the poor lamb and unfortunately Lewis has seen fit to share it with the world. Such shameless bellyaching merely serves to portray him as nothing more than a self-important never-ending Monday morning. Once upon a time anger was an energy, capable of fuelling impassioned, raging blasts - think Nirvana, Public Enemy or At The Drive-In. Lewis however seems content to wallow in his own endless ocean of self-pity and world weary angst.
Neither rebellious nor revolutionary the Fred Durst sponsored Staind are nothing more than the Calling's overly-earnest, foul mouthed elder siblings or Nickelback's less hairy drinking buddies. '14 Shades of Grey' features no standout moments or highlights, just a formulaic, plodding, sixty plus moribund minutes that make this album about an hour too long. Avoid at all costs, even if you're a member of Staind's family.