For the founding members of Stone Temple Pilots, it has been a polarizing few years of emotion following the passing of previous singers Scott Weiland and more recently Chester Bennington. However the band’s resilience is astounding, and can be heard in each verse and chorus from their new self-titled album, Stone Temple Pilots (2018).
Spanning over an eighteen-month search for a new singer, Stone Temple Pilots announced in mid-November 2017 that Jeff Gutt, formerly of nu metal band Dry Cell, would be taken over as the singer of STP. Soon after, the reformed STP announced new music was on the horizon with the band’s seventh studio album. Dean DeLeo commented: “We are thrilled about what lies ahead. The best way for us to honour our past is to keep making new music.”
New vocalist Jeff Gutt has emerged, crafting melodies and writing lyrics for tracks the band had already finished, collaborating with them to create this new musical chapter. Of the fourteen songs they completed, it delivers an exciting clash of tenacious, dissonant guitar riffs over the mighty foundation of signature and intricate drumming and bass. In Gutt, the band has found a talent who can maintain the integrity of STP without stepping on the legacies of those who have come before him. Each track is stamped with the ‘STP thumbprint’ while also offering and new and evolved sound that STP have delivered on previous releases.
Stone Temple Pilots’ production and engineering is underscored by the varied textures experienced, with the instrumentation delicately mixed. This highlights the fine balance of song-writing and musicianship that is punchy, bright, melancholy, and at times simply divine.
The album kicks off with the track Middle of Nowhere. Gutt’s vocals are very reminiscent of Scott Weiland’s ‘Velvet Revolver’ vocal sound, giving a level of familiarity straight away. Guilty features a great drum beat with an instrumental sound not too dissimilar to Led Zeppelin, Gutt’s vocals again channels Weiland staying true to the STP sound.
The single, Meadow is a slow-grower over time with Gutt’s hooky melody a highlight. Just a Little Lie features a sludgy riff, with some shades of their Hazy Daze. Six Eight is a heavier track with tonnes of energy, featuring a great guitar solo from Dean DeLeo. Thought She’d Be Mine is quite a pop like song and could be a future single. Roll Me Under and Thought She’d Be Mine songs are both generically labelled standard STP rock songs. Never Enough has a “Doors like” riff and similar vocal delivery with the song changing when hits its dreamy chorus giving a “Clash like” punk feeling in the latter portion. The Art of Letting Go is another great song in the similar style of Thought She’d Be Mine, with the lush “DeLeo” sound that STP die-hard fans just love. Finest Hour is a tribute to Weiland and Bennington, with some of the album’s best lyrics. The song’s placement on the album positioned after The Art of Letting Go is perfect with lyrics “You never said goodbye/you left a void that’s like no other/I know because it’s true”. An emotional song to fans with the story it tells.
Overall, this album is a success that brings change. The album is a finely-honed rock record on which new singer Jeff Gutt has provided the band with some chemistry to redeliver the signature STP sound. A great rock album for music lovers alike.
Album Review by Rob Lyon