14 Shades of Grey
Crude or Profane Language
Drug and Alcohol Content
Other Negative Elements
Singer Aaron Lewis honors his wife (“Fill Me Up”), and pledges to love and protect his new daughter, “Zoe Jane.” “So Far Away” finds him overcoming a troubled past, feeling blessed and optimistic. “Reality” chides a white-collar drug addict for using pills to escape stress, and warns him that consequences are imminent. On “How About You,” the singer gently rebukes someone for manipulating friends. Other tracks condemn hatred (“Tonight”), apologize for past mistakes (“Could It Be”), and allude to the destructive swath carved by selfishness and apathy (“Price to Play”).
Obscenities are the biggest spoiler. Even cuts with good messages (“Falling Down,” “Fray”) fall prey to the band’s penchant for raw language. “So Far Away” may show a man emerging from a cocoon, but “Blow Away” sends him retreating into one (“I wish I could disappear ... and never let nobody in”). Lewis screams angry “f--- you”s at a self-righteous person on “Intro.” On “Layne,” he honors Alice in Chains frontman Layne Staley, who died last year of a drug overdose—troubling since the tribute exalts that band’s dark, despairing lyrics as a positive influence on Lewis’ life. DVD bonus material includes profanity, alcohol use, vulgar humor and rear male nudity.
Much like Staind’s last disc, this one has a social conscience uncommon in the genre. But obscene gutter-speak ruins it. Imagine someone laboring to make a cake, then jumping up and down once it’s in the oven. What comes out is an avoidable flop.