Following the legal battles between Stone Temple Pilots' founder and lead vocalist Scott Weiland and the other members of the band, a five-track EP titled 'High Rise' was released on 8th October (13Star Records), under the moniker Stone Temple Pilots with Chester Bennington. Yes, THAT dude from Linkin Park.
Having followed STP since its birth in the early nineties when the debut 'Core' was released, and from thereon Weiland's shenanigans throughout the band's career, I was somewhat flabbergasted to find Bennington singing with the band since May this year, due to Weiland insisting he was still in the band.
Apparently the band want him out due to his solo activities and 'erratic behaviour', whereas Weiland himself is trying to prevent the band using the band name and fighting his expulsion from the group. Court cases pending, it remains to be seen whether STP will be dissolved completely.
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The EP's opener 'Out of Time' does a decent job as a standard hard rocking track, stretching Bennington's vocal chords quite impressively. The track was released as a free download in May.
The second single, 'Black Heart' draws from seventies glam bands with a harder edge but fails to ignite. 'Same On The Inside' is a mid-tempo track, which I could imagine being a big hit on US college radio... Catchy, but it feels like listening to Linkin Park Lite.
By the time the EP moves on to 'Cry Cry', I am thinking back to Stone Temple Pilots' past, the band that were one of the big names in alternative rock in the nineties, and I feel sad. When you have a frontman as imposing as Weiland at the helm, it is often difficult, and often detrimental, to continue with a new singer.
I, as do many others, associate Stone Temple Pilots with Weiland, and having someone else in his place feels just wrong. Even Alice In Chains haven't managed to convince me, despite having released some decent material since the passing of Layne Staley. As for Bennington, all I hear is Linkin Park. Unfair maybe, but surely a valid point?
'Tomorrow' closes the EP and what is left is... nothing. This EP fails to move me in any way whatsoever.
One thing is for sure, although reaching unimaginable success with Linkin Park, Bennington has some large shoes to fill. There is no doubt that he has the vocal ability, but when it comes to charisma - there is only one winner, and it isn't him. Stone Temple Pilots would be better off putting the name of the band to well deserved rest and continuing under a different title.
The original members, the DeLeo brothers and Eric Kretz, worked on the songs together with Bennington and what they lack is passion; any kind of real, big hairy balls.
If you're into bland, middle of the road rock, or are just a Bennington fan, go ahead and buy it. This EP won't be one to set the world on fire, but will no doubt sell well, even if purely on the back of Stone Temple Pilots' legacy, as well as the Linkin Park connection.