For those who recall, the first time that Stone Temple Pilots got tired of waiting around for Scott Weiland to turn his shit around was in 1997. The DeLeo brothers and drummer Eric Kretz recruited singer Dave Coutts and Talk Show was born. I saw them play live on the second leg of Foo Fighters' Colour and the Shape tour. It was so vastly different than watching what would become the train wreck of Weiland fronting the band in later years. Different in the sense that a train wreck is at least interesting. It'll hold your attention at least until emergency services arrives. Coutts holds the distinction of being the single most boring frontman I've ever seen. But what was so memorable about their opening slot was that i was transfixed by the musicianship of the DeLeos and Kretz. Top to bottom, they were on it. It didn't matter that Coutts had all the personality of a box of frozen peas, the rest of the band kicked the shit out of that stage.
We all know the talent of Scott Weiland back in the day and we all know the wasted talent that he has become. What hopefully is no longer in dispute is that yes, of course he should have been fired. It should have happened ages ago. Why the hell should these poor bastards have to wait around to earn a living? To book shows? To book studio time. The question of the name? Shouldn't be a question at all. It should go to the DeLeo brothers and Kretz. So then, the real question is, who will succeed Weiland.
First, a qualifier - I don't like Linkin Park. Even though I understand their popularity with the kids - They're safe. They're non-threatening, etc. but to me they're like little kids wanting to play grown-up. They're Nine Inch Nails Jr. and fronting the band is seemingly Trent Reznor's little brother whose balls hadn't dropped yet.
So when it was announced that they brought on Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington to front the band, I was in the resounding greek chorus that simultaneously shouted "What?? Are you kidding me?"
Once the waves of discontent receded from the shore and clips of the band with Bennington began appearing on line, I watched and I listened and then I got it. The guy sounded great. The old songs sounded great and they were back in the key they were written in.
High Rise is an e.p. of five new songs from this new incarnation of STP and i daresay it's better than anything off the last self-titled STP release featuring Scott Weiland. Vocally, Bennington's voice really suits the DeLeo's style and one can see exactly 7 seconds into lead track "Out of Time" why they booked him for the gig. With a quick "Sex and Violence" tempo, it's a good track to shut up the whinging masses. Next track, "Black Heart" has more of the polished Shangri-La Dee Da sound. The e.p. as a whole sounds like more of a continuance from that album than the band's last, which can only be a good thing, as Shangri-La... was their most underrated release.
Big picture-wise, the worry is that while Bennington certainly has the vocal chops, he'll lack the creative edge to keep the band relevant down the road. Despite the shell that Weiland has become, he had a unique way to change his voice and style to whatever the music needed him to and without that, there's concern that they could become little more than a nostalgia act, playing 90's themed cruises with Blues Traveller and Goo Goo Dolls. That would be truly unfortunate. Kretz and the DeLeo brothers deserve better. They've had to fight a long goddamn time to keep this band afloat and I truly hope this collaboration works. High Rise is strong release but they're going to need people to catch on to the new songs to make any real progress. The fact that I've had "Same On The Inside" stuck in my head for two days now, and it still shows no sign of leaving anytime soon gives me hope for High Rise and the future of Stone Temple Pilots.