Review Summary: Demented and Disturbed. "Tormented" is to "Dysfunction" as "Dysfunction" was to "Break the Cycle". More raw and brutal.
Back in 1996, back before Staind was popular, before they were signed to a major label, back before Aaron Lewis knew what a ballad was, Staind released Tormented
their official debut album. Staind has definitely changed a lot since first being formed, and listening to this album after always hearing their softer songs on the radio all the time it’s rather astonishing just how much they have changed. This album gives you a look at Staind as they were originally, and really makes you wonder what they were thinking when they released their latest albums. (Obviously money, which they definitely got)
The album begins with Tolerate
which starts with Aaron in a chilling monologue; “It’s been like this forever, no more, I hate my F***ing life”. In the background is the sound of a gun being loaded and then cocked, and then enters the guitar in a wailing screech soon followed by the bass and drums, and once the whole arsenal is going the mood is quickly set for the album. Tormented
is heavy, raw, a little demented, and also has the under-produced feel to it. The lyrics again continue to be depressed, self hating, and hating everything else similar to Dysfunction
and Break the Cycle
Probably one of the most notable differences in this album is Mr. Lewis’s vocals. In Tormented
it seems as if Lewis has lost a lot of his whiny vocals, except for maybe where he does his high pitched scream like in Question
and the later end of Come Again
. His voice is certainly quite a bit rougher than on the other Staind albums. Lyrically Aaron left nothing back. He delved into all the dark places of his life, and while being more brash and probably not as intelligently written as Dysfunction
the lyrics on both albums are altogether very similar, frequently bringing up drugs and self loathing. “In my despair agonizing over s***t / Feel the needle burn and tingle / My bad habits deal with it”
Something else not normally seen in a Staind album is a guitar solo, but Painful
features one, and while it isn’t any incredible spectacular it is decidedly entertaining. Throughout the album the guitar is heavy and the riffs are crunching. Another distinct and forceful presence is the bass, and it gives quite the performance, giving life to one of the best tracks of the album Mudshuvel
also appears on Dysfunction
and is pretty much the same song, except Aarons voice is a bit rougher and there is a little bit more going on with the guitar. Johnny April also struts his stuff on No One’s Kind
and Come Again
. It may not be incredible bass, but it’s audible for a substantial amount of time and really does a good job at keeping the songs moving. The drumming is unfailingly steady; once again nothing spectacular, but Wysocki has some decent fills and whatnot. He keeps his beat and does his job and I find nothing to complain about, except maybe that there isn’t anything to praise either.
My favorite tracks of the album are probably Tolerate
, and 4 Walls
. The way Tolerate
sets the mood of the album is excellent. I’m a real big fan of the screeching guitar and the way it just starts off with a kick in the face and then holds on to you throughout the track. Towards the end off the song in the background you’re struck by a tortured scream followed by the crack of a whip and the track soon ends with just feedback. Mudshuvel
is just an amazing song which I’m sure most of you have heard. Like I said before there are just a few slight differences between this version of Mudshuvel
and the one on Dysfunction
starts of with the drums in an almost bouncy beat beat, and is soon followed by the bass and guitar. Aaron comes in almost talking and then soon burst into frantic screaming, and then the unceasingly continues with Lewis singing low almost just talking with several more fits of screaming till the end. The one slow song on the albums falls at the very end. 4 Walls
is a cryptic break from the storm. The bass line in this one is probably my favorite on the album and I think Aaron’s voice is really insistent right through to the end to when he whispers “There’s nothing left for me” and the trigger, from the gun that was loaded at the beginning of the album, is pulled and the shot is fired.
To me Tormented
is a raw and uncut look at Staind in their beginning. It’s a fantastic album with some really great songs, If you liked Dysfunction
I definitely recommend this album. I do think Dysfunction
is better, however. After listening to Tormented
it’s really quite sad to see how Staind has gone and abandoned their harder sound and genuinely sold out.