By Staind album five it's remarkable how much bile still sits in Aaron Lewis' gut, how much mental anguish he's endured. But what's equally remarkable is how diligently he regurgitates it. He's like the post-grunge Job. Arguably emotion trumps Layne Staley and Alice in Chains as being the biggest component in this music. Lewis' first-person therapy drove the 2001 breakthrough "It's Been Awhile," his psyche was the star of 2003's 14 Shades of Grey, and he's once again searching, waiting, wondering, and flailing on Chapter V. "I'm still wearing this miserable skin," he cries in the churning "Please." "Why can't you just forgive me?" he pleads in the moody lead single, "Right Here." "I don't want to relive all the mistakes/I've made along the way." Staind often settles into a stodgy trudge somewhere south of melody, and the Alice/Pearl Jam/Tool forces are still strong. ("Devil" is like a Pearl Jam-branded template.) But the thing about Lewis is that he's just so genuine. Hundreds of frontmen pour out their emotions, from post-grunge bruisers to diary-clutching emo ninnies. But you can tell it's not a gimmick with Lewis. There are no illusions to his lyrics, no opportunistic shadows behind his words. "Tell me please/Who the f*ck do you want me to be?" -- Lewis could care less about looking macho when his heart's on the line. He searches for his emotional rescue in every note of every song, and if the hook suffers, well, too bad. Unfortunately they do suffer on Chapter V -- the mostly mid-tempo songs plod along, usually turning to a screeching lead guitar over chunky chording to differentiate the choruses. But by this point in the band's career it's likely fans are responding exclusively to Lewis' heady turmoil, not just waiting for a melody as strong as the one in "It's Been Awhile." V does still has its moments. "Take This" builds gently to an understated chorus -- it wouldn't be out of place on a Lifehouse album -- and "Right Here" is strong. As for rocking, "Falling" satisfies in a mid-'90s modern rock radio sort of way. But Staind is still about that wounded muscle in Lewis' chest, and whether or not he'll ever find redemption.
AllMusic Review by Johnny Loftus