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Grittier and more raw than subsequent releases, TORMENTED, Staind’s debut album, shows a band with its alternative metal heart in the right place. Released independently, and still showing traces of seminal influences like Tool, Faith No More, and Pantera, TORMENTED establishes the sonic blueprint—especially the searing guitar work and Aaron Lewis’s distinctive scream-sing vocal style—that would win them legions of fans. Despite some spotty production, this impressive debut unleashes a band whose amps are overloaded, and whose aim is deadly. The original version of “Mudshuvel” (which later appeared on DYSFUNCTION) is one of several highlights.

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