High Rise, Stone Temple Pilots 

With Chester Bennington.

To be brutally honest, Stone Temple Pilots hasn't been relevant for a very long time. No. 4 (Atlantic Records, 1999) was the last release that even approached respectability, and the only reason anyone paid attention to STP after that was the self-destructive behavior or former frontman Scott Weiland. Now that Weiland has been replaced by Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, that's changing, and the new STP's debut EP, High Rise (Play Pen, 2013), feels like a breath of fresh air.

"Out of Time" is a classic STP-style driving rock number, and the Brothers DeLeo show they still know how to put on a good three-minute rock show. The band changes pace with the bluesy "Black Heart" and the glammed out "Same on the Inside." The crunchy, gritty "Cry Cry" feels like a Jet B-side, and the closer, "Tomorrow," is eerily reminiscent of "Silvergun Superman." While some of these songs are a bit derivative of STP's previous work, sonically, they aren't half bad.

Bennington makes an impression on this EP, as much for what he doesn't do as for what he does: He doesn't imitate Weiland's delivery, and his trademark screams never appear on the album--not once. Bennington shows off the more melodic, sky-scraping quality of his vocals, and the effect works pretty well.

With High Rise, STP sounds like a new band. Some fans will certainly piss and moan about how Bennington doesn't compare to Weiland and the band should just break up, but it feels like its members are having fun for the first time in a long while.

High Rise, though far from perfect, might be the start of something really cool.

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