There have been few bands unluckier than Stone Temple Pilots have been over the last few years. Having lost both of their former lead singers in the last three years, there's a lot of pain in the hearts of the DeLeo brothers and Eric Kretz. They're not letting that pain hold them back, however. With new singer Jeff Gutt at the helm, Stone Temple Pilots overcome tragedy with Stone Temple Pilots, their new record that truly feels like they've finally found their place again.
Stone Temple Pilots is the band's second eponymous LP. In fact, it was their last album, 2011's Stone Temple Pilots, that was the original self-titled. This album feels much more fitting to that title, however: 2011's self-titled album was a disheveled comeback, one that only had an idea of what they thought would put them back on the mainstage, but really only managed to further their identity crisis. Now, seven years later, this record feels comfortable for the band. That's apparent right from the start with big opening track 'Middle To Nowhere,' where Gutt's voice fits in like a missing piece of the puzzle as the huge drive and groovy riff gets the momentum going. 'Guilty' follows up just as epically, before lead single 'Meadow' shows that the band really found a way to bring their sound to a modern front.
As comfortably modern Stone Temple Pilots is, it stands in the face of tragedy. In 2015, the band's original singer Scott Weiland passed away, and just this last summer, the world felt the reverberations of the death of Chester Bennington, who served as the singer of Stone Temple Pilots from 2013 to 2015, releasing the High Rise EP with the band. While Gutt's vocal style is definitely more reminiscent of Weiland, it's Bennington that really had the most profound affect on him. Gutt and Bennington have been friends since the earlier days of Linkin Park and Gutt's former band, Dry Cell, their friendship dating back to 2001. The song 'Finest Hour' is all about Chester, the music itself sounding like a memorial of sorts. Gutt painstakingly sings "you never said goodbye / it left a void like no other" to start the song off, later saying his farewells: "I won't forget that smile / It was contagious like no other... I'll hold our precious time up to the sky / I'll miss you brother."
Losing both Weiland and Bennington definitely served as an emotional hurdle for the band to learn to jump over, but there's more to it, too: Stone Temple Pilots had to really make a splash. This record is only the second full length album the band has released since 2001 (barring the EP with Chester). Luckily, the music does it all for itself. There are some truly monstrous riffs on this song, 'Roll Me Under' standing at the forefront of that as the giant riff rages forward under Gutt's growling delivery. 'Six Eight' has a badass vibe to it, keeping it grungy while still adding a modern touch to it. Closing tracks 'Good Shoes' and 'Red & Blues' bring the album to a big, fun note after airing all their grievances in the tracks before it. Gutt even proves that he can hold his ground on slower tracks, showing his softer register in the somber 'Thought She'd Be Mine' and 'The Art Of Letting Go,' in which the band toils with learning how to move forward.
When faced with tragedy, you can either stand down and submit or rise to the occasion. Stone Temple Pilots have gone through a lot of pain, but they turned that pain into their passion and made art. Stone Temple Pilots overcome tragedy with Stone Temple Pilots, bringing their sound to a modern front with a new singer and a new cue for passion, and finally sound ready to keep rolling once and for all.
Favorite Tracks: Roll Me Under, The Art Of Letting Go, Finest Hour, Six Eight
Least Favorite Track: Just A Little Lie
Rating: 89 / 100
Stream or buy Stone Temple Pilots on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: