Staind broke into the nu-metal scene in 2001 with "Break the Cycle", although it was their third album, second on a major label, it is the one that brought them worldwide success. Already moving a bit from Nu-Metal to post-Grunge the band took their strength to a higher level.
They have a winning formula -- toning down the aggression and turning up the emotion.
In 2001, "Break the Cycle" and "Been a While" became inescapable, and soon Staind had eclipsed even its mentor, Fred Durst's Limp Bizkit, in popularity, raising expectations for the group's third album, 2003's "14 Shades of Grey". What they've delivered is a record that follows through on the neo-grunge soul-baring, sensitive journal entries of "Break the Cycle". There are plenty of loud guitars here, but the overall sense of aggression has been tempered considerably as Aaron Lewis' thoughts and feelings take the forefront, with the music used as a coloring for his emotion.
Staind is all about how Lewis is feeling, whether it's about the world, love, his daughter Zoe Jane, or his idol, Layne Staley. The tempos, even when fast, let Lewis emote, and he does so with a full-bodied croon, something that sounds particularly jarring when he sings "FUCK" which he does a lot in choruses.
Aaron is giving his feelings full bloom on "14 Shades of Grey", and they have the net result of either making listeners empathize completely or turning them off completely. This is why we think that this album, is more intended for the band fans rather than the "Break the Cycle" fans. You need to love the band and their sound in order to love this album. you will not find here catchy tunes or strong hooks that will capture your breath on the first note, you will find here songs to relate to and digest.
The album featured four singles and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, with first-week sales of 220,000 copies. By July 2003, "14 Shades of Grey" had been certified gold then later platinum.