Right Left Wrong
I Am An Outsider
Nothing To Lose But You
Me Against You
Love Me Or Leave Me
Villain I’m Not
Chasing The First Time
The New Real
Reviewed by Wendy Smith
Three Days Grace sit in a very crowded genre. Alt metal, North American hard rock, whatever you want to call it, there are a plethora of bands churning out songs and albums. It is a hard group to stand out in and I’m sure dozens, if not hundreds of these bands fall by the wayside before they have really been heard outside of their own backyards. So considering that Three Days Grace have been on the go since 1997, they must be getting something right. I have a long history with this type of music, but not with this band, other than Spotify throwing them into daily mixes on a regular basis and songs like I Hate Everything About You and Animal I Have Become being favourites of rock compilations the world over. So I was looking forward to listening to their new release.
Outsider, their 6th studio album and second with new lead singer, Matt Walst began its’ life in 2016 when the guys got together to begin writing and rehearsing. They shunned the bright lights of Toronto and began the process in a garage at the back of bassist Brad Walst’s house. Then continuing in a remote and wintery cottage on drummer Neil Sanderson’s farm. I feel like I can hear the wide open spaces and starry skies in these songs, or maybe it’s that I have really good headphones that give the music a purity. Either way, I listened to this album loud and often while writing this and loved every minute of it.
The opening track Right, Left Wrong begins with a dark piano and electronic intro with whispering that brings back memories of every horror movie I’ve avoided watching over the years. A heavy riff kicks in, and I can feel the butterflies in my belly that that tells me I’m about to hear something I think I’m going to like. The lyrics speak of angst and hopelessness, “I only want to disappear, far from here, away from everyone, before I come undone.” The bass is relentless. “Left right left, right left wrong”. With eyes closed and head phones on, I am being carried away by the pounding beat. Every album should start with such a strong track.
The Mountain is the first single release from Outside and another strong track. I’m not usually keen on electronic elements in rock songs but Three Days Grace have managed to skillfully weave these elements in between a solid guitar and bass riff and they add to the texture of the track. I can see the chorus of this song providing a great devil horns in the air, crowd singalong opportunity as they road test these tracks on their North American tour which kicks off today in Baltimore.
I am an Outsider, the title track is full of teenage angst. “I am an Outsider, I don’t care about the in-crowd. I’m better off on my own, now.” Musically, this track revolves around the drums and keyboards of Neil Sanderson and is layered with vocals. Is Emo still a thing? If so, this song will resonate. 3 tracks in and there is definitely a darkness to the lyrics and in the subject matter that surprises me given the 20 year career and maturity of the band.
Infra-Red begins with a quite beautiful, paired back and atmospheric guitar piece (more whispering, are they trying to give me bloody nightmares?) before a pounding riff kicks in. This has “radio friendly” written all over it.
A beautiful acoustic and voice intro sees Matt Walst dabbling in the lower register. Nothing To Lose But You is the sort of song that would be used in a movie soundtrack. Guy is unfaithful; girl chucks him out; guy walking along a stormy beach eating himself up over how he fucked up. “If I didn’t have you I’d be better off dead, you’re the reason I’m still alive.” The chorus is a tad long, but the song is very atmospheric and I’m loving the use of an acoustic.
Me Against You will be a crowd favourite. “don’t put thoughts in my head, trying to tell me what to do………….FUCK THAT” Hold the mike out and let the fans do the work. This has an anthemic feel to it and is a really well-crafted song with lots of space in it. As much as I love a “wall of sound”, there is something to be said for a band who do not feel the need to fill space with sound for the sake of it. Less can definitely be more.
Hang on, where’s the guitars? Did half the band get the day off? Love Me Or Leave Me is an atmospheric, electronic rock masterpiece. Trent Reznor could not have done a better job and I could definitely hear the influence of Nine Inch Nails in the hypnotic heartbeat of this song. And it absolutely had a heartbeat with a thumping electronic pulse throughout. I may need to change my listening habits on the back of this track.
The verses of Villain I’m Not again see Matt Walst singing in the lower register and I like it. It makes the track stand out and feel different from the rest. More of this, please. I love the riff but I have a question. Why do Three Doors Down never do guitar solos in their songs? We might like it.
On balance, this album has more highlights than anything else and I really hope that one of the tracks is picked up becomes a classic like they have had in previous years. Give it a listen.
You can pre-order Outsider here: http://smarturl.it/TDG.OUTSIDER