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DLC Week of 12/14: Silverstein and Stone Temple Pilots

Silverstein “Poison Pill” represents some of the finest and most punishingly heavy music Canada has to offer in 2023, while Stone Temple Pilots “Vasoline” was a defining moment in mid-‘90s grunge. Each of these rockers are available this Thursday in the Rock Band Music Store.

Taken from the 2023 extended, “deluxe” reissue of 2022’s critically acclaimed Misery Made Me LP, Silverstein “Poison Pill” is a taut hard rock number with pounding beats, a powerful chorus, and lyrics and production flourishes that nod to the Canadian quintet’s emo roots. Upon the album’s release, frontman Shane Told shared, “Almost a year later, it's super exciting to celebrate my favorite album we've ever made with some extra songs and alternate versions. 'Poison Pill' was one of my favorite songs from the Misery Made Me sessions, but I wasn't sure it completely fit in with the rest of the album. But, it was so catchy, and had so many cool tones and textures, we wanted to save it for this moment and really show a different emotion and feel from the rest of the album." 

Rumbling, distorted bass (Billy Hamilton) and impassioned vocals (Told) establish the tracks intro before tribal drums (Paul Koehler) and an atmospheric keyboard part are introduced 12 seconds in. The full band – Todd, Koehler, Hamilton, Josh Bradford (rhythm guitar), and Paul Marc Rousseau (lead guitar) – shows up for the first chorus at the 24-second mark. It’s a soaring, explosive refrain that concludes with some overdriven/distorted FX added to the Told’s voice before dovetailing seamlessly into a furiously heavy instrumental section that’s all volcanic guitars and crushing percussion. The second verse is melodically identical to the first, the difference being the complete ensemble instrumentation. Following the second chorus, we arrive at the bridge that gives Rousseau a little room to run up and down the fretboard for a bit during the latter half. A double-dose of the refrain rounds out “Poison Pill,” with two muscular one-two percussive salvo concludes the track at 3:17. 

All in all, this is some attention-grabbing hard rock/alt-metal with groove for days, impressive musicianship on all fronts, infectious beats, and a massive chorus that’s sure to be a crowd pleaser. If you’re not already on board with Silverstein, get to know these hard rocking metalheads from the Great White North – you’ll be glad you did!

“Vasoline,” the second single from Stone Temple Pilots’ second full-length, Purple, reached #1 on the U.S. Mainstream Rock charts and became a signature song for the band and remains a staple on rock radio. Still every bit as arresting a track as it was back in 1994, it’s one of the defining compositions and performances of the grunge era – a grinding, undulating, mid-tempo hard-rocker with enough sonic grit and lyrical grime to satisfy the most demanding head-banging nihilist who secretly treasures a tasty melodic hook here and there.

Beginning with a slow fade-in of gnarly, swirling guitar feedback, “Vasoline” (by the way, yes – that is how the title is spelled) gradually adds the other instrumental components and greater volume until the track fully kicks into gear at the 28-second mark. There we land on the song’s defining riff, a repetitive and slinky whole-step figure occasionally detuned into deliberately discomforting atonality via string-bend. Eric Kretz (drums) and Robert DeLeo (bass, backing vocals) lay down a confident, workmanlike (but trickier to play than you might assume) rhythm while DeLeo’s brother Dean chugs away on the six-string. At 40 seconds in, vocalist and primary lyricist Scott Weiland comes on board for the verse with his distinctive, genre-defining baritone. A mere 10 seconds later Stone Temple Pilots (let’s just call them “STP” – all their real fans do) straighten the beat and ramp up the cut’s intensity for the memorable chorus, which includes a cleverly syncopated descending transition from “Part A” to “Part B” of the refrain, and then we’re on to verse #2. After the second chorus, the fellas launch into the bridge at 1:49 – for the guitarists/musicians out there, it’s an A7sus4/A# which explains why a single-chord section manages to nonetheless sound decidedly funky and a little unsettling. 10 seconds later (Again! These guys love progressing in 10-second increments) Dean lets loose with an impactful, blistering lead with plenty of hammer/pulls that sometimes – just like the main guitar riff – purposefully and artfully veer into atonal territory – and tasteful pull-offs to open strings. Not “shredder” material, but melodically inventive and cleverly effective in outlining and reflecting the song’s overall tonality. From there, STP revisits the chorus a final time and then returns to the signature riff before the track ends (on that A7sus4/A# again, for what it’s worth. Why end in a normal fashion when you already have a vaguely creepy, previously established chord in your back pocket?).

Ok, onto what the heck Scott Weiland is singing about. First off, as the story goes, the title itself (and a portion of a chorus) was borne out of a misheard lyric. The lyrics are clearly “dark” (it is grunge, after all) and obliquely about breaking free of negative behavior cycles. At one point, Weiland claimed that the track is about, “feeling like an insect under a magnifying glass,” but in his own autobiography released later, he specified that “Vasoline” is about, “being stuck I the same situation over and over again. It’s about me becoming a junkie. It’s about lying to Jannina [Castenada, first wife] and lying to the band about my heroin addiction.” I told you it was dark!

Hooky, powerful, deceptively complex (how many popular rock songs are Mixolydian?) – you very likely are already familiar with “Vasoline” and will be psyched to play along, but if you *don’t* already know this scorcher, prepare to be hooked on your new favorite track!

Silverstein “Poison Pill” and Stone Temple Pilots “Vasoline” are now available as DLC. Both can now be yours for $1.99 each.

  • Silverstein – “Poison Pill”
  • Stone Temple Pilots – “Vasoline”

VIDEO: Rock Band 4 DLC Week of 12/14: Silverstein “Poison Pill” and Stone Temple Pilots “Vasoline”



*Please note that this week’s DLC tracks will be available for purchase on Thursday, December 14th.