Stone Temple Pilots have brought out a new self-titled album, making this their second self-titled album (the first being released back in 2010), their first album with new lead singer Jeff Gutt, and their 7th studio album so far. They were one of the best-selling rock bands of the nineties, with a number of platinum records, top-ten singles and number-one hits on the Billboard rock charts. Apart from newcomer Jeff Gutt as the lead vocalist the band remains the same, with Dean DeLeo on guitar, Robert DeLeo on bass and Eric Kretz on drums. The band already have an incredible musical legacy behind them, but are excited to keep pushing forwards, producing as much music as they can; continuing and expanding on their catalogue.
After they opened up the year-long auditions for a new vocalist many fans were curious, wondering what and who the band were looking for. Gutt joining the band was finally announced on 14th November 2017, and the following day they released their first single together titled “Meadow”. On 31st January this year they released a second new single “Roll Me Under” and announced the new album for release this year. Since then they have released another two singles (“The Art of Letting Go” and “Never Enough”) from this album and fans have been itching for more, looking forward to the release of the finished record. For a band with a 30 year history, an impressive catalogue of music and extensive touring experience, this new music hasn’t lost any of their original spark. Their experience shows – the songs are hook-laden (but not overly so); they’re well-crafted and passionately executed, striking a perfect balance between hard-hitting rock and catchy tunes you can dance to. The sound they’ve created calls back to some of their earlier work on albums such as “Core” or “Purple”, blending heavy rock with groovy beats and some funky bass lines, making an eclectic mix that should appeal to a broad range of rock music fans.
The album slams in with “Middle of Nowhere” boasting some loud, catchy riffs and a memorable tune. Jeff Gutt’s vocals come into their own here and are continually great throughout the album, showing that he was a perfect match for Stone Temple Pilots. His vocals land somewhere between Scott Weiland’s and Chester Bennington’s, and this album cements his place as a member of the band. It feels like the band have picked up where they left off with ease after the losses of Weiland and Bennington, wanting to continue pursuing their love of music, paying tribute to both former band members along the way.
“Meadow” was the lead single from the album, being the first track released and the first time fans got to hear Jeff Gutt with the band. The guitars are crunchy, the vocals are distorted and the feeling is carefree – this would be great to listen to on a hazy summer afternoon.
“Just A Little Lie” opens with some contorted and interestingly layered guitar riffs – they sound like they probably shouldn’t work, but they fit undeniably well. The song progresses into the chorus and evens out, then when the next verse comes around those hypnotizing riffs make a return. For a fairly slow-paced song it packs a lot of bite, showcasing the DeLeo brothers’ skills for guitar and bass.
“Six Eight” is a power-driven barrage of grinding guitars, ear-splitting drums and smooth vocals. The song reaches a moment of calm, then plunges back into the fray of noise. The contrast between the smooth verses and the mosh-inducing chorus will pull you in. Then tracks such as “Never Enough” feel the influence of many classic rock bands with its sound. It starts out loud and pumped full of angst, then the song relaxes into the chorus – becoming almost serene before pumping back into the powerful, danceable groove in the verses.
“Thought She’d Be Mine” is the laid-back track on the album. Drifting along on a sea of longing and heartbreak, but with a sense of hope to it. It’s great to hear some acoustic guitar in this song, and this would make a fantastic all-acoustic song. Whilst “The Art of Letting Go” is definitely the saddest song on the album. The beat is soft and the guitars gentle as Gutt sings about heart-break and loss. It’s a beautiful track, you may even need a tissue to dab your eyes as you reminisce along with the band.
I can’t fault this album in any way. Like a lot of fans I was curious how a new lead singer would affect their sound and what new things they would bring to the table, but I’m impressed. Jeff Gutt has stepped into a band with a history and a successful legacy, and somehow it feels like he was meant to be a part of it. This album is a fresh start for Stone Temple Pilots, whilst it also picks up from where they left off. Blending shredding guitars, groovy bass lines and ear-splitting drums – the band are back in full-swing and ready to take on new challenges.