Jeff Gutt has a thankless task before him. Some might say impossible, even. He's replacing Scott Weiland, one of the most loved and recognizable frontmen of the last 30 years, who tragically died far too young.
He's also replacing Chester Bennington, Weiland's replacement who, after leaving Stone Temple Pilots and returning to Linkin Park, also tragically died far too young.
So what was bassist and guitarist Robert and Dean DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz to do? Do they retire the STP name and continue on with a new project? Or do they continue on as Stone Temple Pilots with another new singer?
Both paths are frought with peril.
Do the former, and you potentially lose half your fanbase essentially starting over.
Do the latter, and you potentially lose half your fanbase who feel somehow slighted. That a band they've been invested in for decades are pissing on their own legacy and the legacy of members no longer with us.
The thing is, they can't and shouldn't be faulted for either decision. You have 3 remaining members who have given their literal blood, sweat and tears to STP. It's easy for us to judge. All we've done is buy the albums and gone to shows. That's the fun stuff. They've been doing all the damn work.
Well, the band has decided to continue on as Stone Temple Pilots and this is where singer Jeff Gutt enters the story.
As previously stated, this poor bastard is stepping into some big goddamn shoes and is gonna have to fight to make a name for himself. Or not. Because here's the thing - the guy is good. Really good.
And you take away all the extraneous noise, all the judgements, all the assumptions, and what we have before us is a fucking great Stone Temple Pilots album.
The first thing that's bound to become evident after the first couple songs is "Wow. The new guy really sounds like Scott." But as the album progresses with tunes like "Meadow" and the blues-tinged "Six Eight", that observation dissolves into "Wow. This really sounds like Stone Temple Pilots". And it does. More so than even the last album with Weiland in 2010 (also self-titled). Dean is clearly pulling no punches on this album as the solos on "Roll Me Under" and "Just A Little Lie" will attest. Honestly, some of his best work can be found on this album. Kretz - forever the unsung hero of STP is every bit in the pocket as he's always been. There's always been a sway and a groove to his playing that moves the song forward and never lets it languish. That leaves bassist Robert DeLeo providing that rock-solid, or rather...rawk-solid foundation, the grease and lifeblood in the STP machine.
There's honestly not a lot of bands that can come back from the brink once, let alone as many times as Stone Temple Pilots has. With or without Scott. With or without the name. This is a band that has earned the right to continue their story however they see fit.