Tormented (Staind album)

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Staind Tormented.jpg
Studio album by Staind
Released November 29, 1996
Recorded 1996
Genre Alternative metal
Length 73:31
Label Self-released
Producer Staind
Staind chronology

Tormented is the debut studio album by the American rock band Staind, self-released in 1996. The album was originally only available in limited quantities in New England, United States, with the original release limited to 4,000 copies. Tormented was later re-released on CD in 2004. In 1993, Staind vocalist Aaron Lewis and Staind guitarist Mike Mushok met each other at a Christmas party in the New England area. Mushok brought drummer Jon Wysocki into the fold and Lewis had a connection with a bass guitarist who later left, starting the early lineup. In November 1995, Staind officially formed in Springfield, Massachusetts. Touring in the Northeast helped Staind obtain a cult following.

Tormented is Staind's heaviest album. Described as a grunge-influenced alternative metal album by critics, Tormented is somewhat of a concept album that tells the story of a depressed person who eventually commits suicide. The album helped get Staind a record deal with Limp Bizkit vocalist Fred Durst and the record label Flip Records. Durst was initially appalled when he saw the album's graphic and Satanic cover art, but signed Staind after being impressed with the band's performance. Tormented sold at least a few thousand copies and although it received very little critical reception, the reception was positive, praising its heaviness and aggression though criticizing its production. The album contains an early version of "Mudshovel", named "Mudshuvel", the breakthrough song which would give Staind mainstream rock success in 1999.


In 1993, Staind vocalist Aaron Lewis and Staind guitarist Mike Mushok met at a Christmas party in the New England area. Mushok brought drummer Jon Wysocki into the fold and Lewis had a connection with a bass guitar player who later left, completing the early lineup. On November 24, 1995, Staind officially formed in Springfield, Massachusetts. Extensive touring in the Northeast helped Staind acquire a cult following.[1]

In a 2008 interview, Lewis elaborated on the motivation for the musical style featured on Tormented:

The closest we ever came to being a heavy metal band was on our very first record, Tormented. On that, we were trying to fit into the Boston hardcore scene. That was what we had to work with at the time. We didn't have a record deal. We didn't have anything going on. In order to try to compete in some way in the Boston hardcore music scene, we wrote a really heavy record, and our roots for that heaviness were metal. It's never been that since. Even Dysfunction was a huge step away from Tormented.[2]

Music and lyrics[edit]

Staind member Aaron Lewis (pictured) said that he did not "have it very good as a kid".[3]

The songs on Tormented are about topics such as pain, animosity, suicide and depression. Author Tommy Udo wrote: "Tormented is one long rush of hardcore brat-rage, a 900mph scream of a man smashing his head against a wall with frustration".[4] Described as alternative metal by AllMusic,[5] Tormented is also somewhat of a concept album that tells the story of a depressed person who eventually commits suicide.[6] This is hinted by the spoken-word line, "it's been like this forever... no more... I hate my fucking life", followed by the sound of a gun being cocked before the first song, "Tolerate";[7] this thematic device returns with the line "there's nothing left for me" and then the sound of a gunshot immediately after the song "Four Walls" and before the hidden track "Funeral".[8]

The lyrics on Tormented are influenced by Staind member Aaron Lewis' life. Lewis spoke about it, saying: "My life, up to a point was shit. But I've come a long way. I grew up in a trailer park in Vermont. That was the shit I got out of me in Tormented and Dysfunction, and tailing into Break the Cycle. But the title, Break the Cycle, says it all."[9] AllMusic described Tormented as "grittier and more raw than" Staind's "subsequent releases".[5] The album's music has been compared to that of heavy metal band Pantera,[10] featuring singing and screaming.[5] Despite being an intense heavy metal record, Tormented features a rather soft song, "Four Walls".[2]

According to the Lollipop, Staind combine grunge-influenced hooks with heavy metal-style drums and guitars.[11] Describing the vocals on Tormented, Lollipop elaborated: "Vocally, it may seem odd to say a band can have the passionate trembling of, ya know, those Seattle bands, yet have a desperate howl that is rather Kornesque."[11]

In 2008, Staind guitarist Mike Mushok noted his lack of appreciation for the album: "We have a lot of fans who say, 'I love Tormented.' I'm like, 'Have you ever listened to it? Because I can't.' But that's great – that's why they're fans."[12]

Release and critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic (favorable)[5]
Lollipop (favorable)[11]
Northeast Performer (favorable)[13]

Self-released on November 29, 1996,[14][5] Tormented was launched with a record-release party which drew at least 900 people,[15] with at least 200 buying the album.[14] The album was originally only available in New England, with the original release limited to 4,000 copies.[16] 2,000 copies sold within a year,[17] at live shows and small record stores, and later on Staind's website.[18] Tormented had only sold a few thousand copies by 2002,[19] but was re-released on CD in 2004.[20]

Although Tormented received very little critical attention, reviews were positive, with critics finding fault in the album's production but praising its heaviness and aggression. AllMusic gave the album a very positive review, writing: "[Tormented] shows a band with its alternative metal heart in the right place [...] 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."[5] In 1997, Steven Woltasek of CMJ New Music Report wrote: "For those of you that don't know, wake up and look around for the debut release from Staind entitled Tormented ".[21] In the book Brave Nu World, author Tommy Udo wrote: "To go back now and listen to Staind's 1996 debut, Tormented, back to back with Break The Cycle is like listening to another band".[4] Scott Hefflon of the Lollipop wrote: "Staind are savvy, street-smart, and dammit, they rock. Their studio debut, tOrmenteD, shows either a natural knack for milking the most out of a crunchy guitar, or they had some good coaching."[11] The Northeast Performer wrote: "Staind's musicianship is striking, and their live performance takes their recorded material one step further: pushing the envelope, ripping up the envelope, then jumping up and down all over the envelope til there ain't a damn thing left".[13]

Cover art[edit]

The album is known for its graphic and Satanic cover art. The cover depicts a bloody Barbie doll on a crucifix with nails hanging from a plastic frame, a buried person with a rosary protruding from the person's nose, and a knife impaling a Bible.[22][23][24] This album cover appalled Limp Bizkit member Fred Durst so much that he attempted to remove Staind from a concert bill shortly before their performance.[23] Durst thought that Staind were Theistic Satanists.[23][25] Although he tried to remove Staind from a concert bill, Durst allowed Staind to perform.[23] After hearing Staind perform, Durst was so impressed that he signed them to Flip Records[25][26] by February 1998.[14] Durst produced Staind's second album Dysfunction (1999).[27]

Lewis said that the album cover "was twisted and demented and it totally did what it was supposed to do, which is shock the hell out of [Durst]". Lewis then said nonetheless, Durst "didn't find it shocking in an amusing way. It definitely grabbed your attention. That was the point of it."[28] Staind later thought that the album cover for Tormented was naïve.[29] According to Mushok, Staind "had to move back the CD release party because four different places would not print the CD cover".[30]

Live performances and post-Tormented[edit]

"Mudshuvel", renamed "Mudshovel", was re-recorded as a radio-friendly version and released in 1999 as the third single for Staind's album Dysfunction. It became the band's breakout single and the most popular song from their second album, ranking on the Mainstream Rock chart for 28 weeks where it peaked at number 10 in November 1999.[31] The Tormented track "Come Again" is on Staind's 2006 singles compilation.[32] Following the album tour, Staind have not played many songs from Tormented except for "Tolerate", "Come Again", and "Break".[33]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Length
1. "Tolerate" 4:39
2. "Come Again" 3:48
3. "Break" 3:59
4. "Painful" 3:30
5. "Nameless" 3:30
6. "Mudshuvel" 4:34
7. "See Thru" 4:28
8. "Question?" 3:30
9. "No One's Kind" 4:47
10. "Self Destruct" 3:36
11. "Four Walls" ("Four Walls" ends at 5:28. Following 8:02 seconds of silence, the hidden track "Funeral" begins at 13:30.[8]) 33:10
Total length: 73:31
  • The hidden track "Funeral" is 19 minutes long and features a church organ, the sound of a few people coughing, and a preacher reciting a verse from the Bible.[8]
  • "Mudshuvel" was later re-recorded for their second album Dysfunction as "Mudshovel".[5]



  1. ^ True, Chris. "Staind | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b Florino, Rick (August 25, 2008). "Interview: Staind (Aaron Lewis)". ARTISTdirect. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  3. ^ Vaziri, Aidin (June 1, 2003). "Aaron Lewis / Staind front man is miserably wealthy". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b Udo, Tommy (2002). Brave Nu World. Sanctuary. p. 89. ISBN 1-86074-415-X. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g "Tormented – Staind". AllMusic. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  6. ^ Hartmann, Graham (September 23, 2015). "Mish Mushok Plays 'Wikipedia: Fact or Fiction?'". Loudwire. Retrieved March 16, 2017. 
  7. ^ Lewis, Aaron, Mike Mushok, Jon Wysocki, and Johnny April, perfs. Tolerate. Staind. 1996. CD.
  8. ^ a b c Lewis, Aaron, Mike Mushok, Jon Wysocki, and Johnny April, perfs. Four Walls. Staind. 1996. CD.
  9. ^ "Staind". Starland Ballroom. Archived from the original on October 2, 2014. Retrieved September 8, 2015. 
  10. ^ Blackie, Andrew (November 16, 2006). "Staind: The Singles 1996–2006". PopMatters. Retrieved November 2, 2015. 
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  12. ^ Grierson, Tim (August 20, 2008). "Staind Interview". Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved February 24, 2010. 
  13. ^ a b Dr Fever. "Staind". Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  14. ^ a b c Hall, Chris (November 2, 2001). "Artist of the Week" (PDF). The Southeastern. 82 (10). p. 5. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  15. ^ Carioli, Carly (April 29, 1999). "Mass metal". Boston Phoenix. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Staind - Tormented". Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  17. ^ Ratiner, Tracie (2009). Contemporary Musicians. 65. Gale / Cengage Learning. p. 174. ISBN 9780787696153. 
  18. ^ Caldwell, Tara (November 17, 2000). "Staind Re-Releases Rare Indie Album Online". Chart Attack. Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  19. ^ Kitts, Jeff; Tolinski, Brad (2002). Guitar World Presents Nu-metal. Hal Leonard Corporation. p. 13. ISBN 9780634032875. 
  20. ^ "Staind - Tormented". Retrieved January 20, 2017. 
  21. ^ Woltasek, Steven (September 8, 1997). "Loud Rock Dialogue". CMJ New Music Report. Vol. 51 no. 537. CMJ Network, Inc. ISSN 0890-0795. 
  22. ^ Guitar World Presents Nu-metal. Guitar World. 2002. p. 14. 
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  24. ^ "In the United States District Court for the Northern District of Ohio Western Division" (PDF). Retrieved September 8, 2015. 
  25. ^ a b True, Chris. "Staind | Biography & History". AllMusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved September 8, 2015. 
  26. ^ Grierson, Tim. "Staind – Career Biography and Discography". Retrieved September 8, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Fred Durst | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved April 24, 2017. 
  28. ^ Iddings, Bill (July 3, 2008). "Staind's lofty name: 'You can so run with that'". Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  29. ^ Udo, Tommy (2002). Brave Nu World. Sanctuary. p. 83. ISBN 9781860744150. 
  30. ^ Udo, Tommy (2002). Brave Nu World. Sanctuary Publishing. p. 83. ISBN 1-86074-415-X. 
  31. ^ "Staind - Chart history". Billboard. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  32. ^ "The Singles 1996-2006 - Staind". AllMusic. Retrieved March 18, 2017. 
  33. ^ "Mike Mushok Q + A, Part II". Staind. October 27, 2010. Retrieved March 19, 2017.