Sound — 9
Compared two the band's previous two albums, "Life Starts Now" is significantly more technically sound. In many of the tracks, Three Days Grace breaks away from their cliche power chord riffs and ventures into many different melodies, and this album is even riddled with guitar solos, one of which is quite technical. All of the instrumental work is quite a bit more complex this time around. Amongst the 12 tracks, there are many fast drum rolls and beats (in "Bitter Taste", in particular) and interesting riffs. The bass is also a lot more present, not being hidden under the guitar as much, and Brad Walst makes an impact, delivering smooth, enjoyable baselines. Even the vocal work is improved this time around. Adam Gontier has definitely been practicing, being able to get into higher octaves without with voice cracking and he seems to always be on key. Many understated vocal harmonies can be found throughout the record, and Adam's falsetto throughout "Last to Know" is definitely worth mentioning. All in all, Three Days Grace's sound has never been stronger. This isn't to say previous fans of the band will feel alienated. "Life Starts Now" still contains the catchy choruses and powerful riffs Three Days Grace has been known for. In particular, the first single off the album, "Break", is about as cliche a Three Days Grace song as you can get. But the band members have undoubtedly evolved as musicians, pretty much entirely for the better. "Life Starts Now" is a very still enjoyable experience for old fans, but it gives what their past two albums left to be desired: a sturdy musical base.
Lyrics — 8
Three Days Grace's lyrics have always dealt with a pretty shallow list of subjects, and for the most part, they remain this way in "Life Starts Now". Many of the songs are about depression, isolation, and the like. But not all of the tracks are dark this time around. The positive tone of loves songs like "Lost in You" and "Without You" may surprise the listener. A big element of Three Days Grace's lyrics has always been the hopeful overtones to otherwise dark songs, such as in the chorus to the single "Animal I Have Become" off their sophomore effort, "One-X". "Help me tame this animal," Adam belts, knowing there is always hope that things will get better as long as you try. This hopeful tone can be found in Life Starts Now, but a number of songs are just plain dark. The heavy, grunge ballad "Bully" is a shockingly morbid tale, and the chorus of "Someone Who Cares" is quite blunt: "Why is it so hard to find someone who cares about you/ When it's easy enough to find someone who looks down on you?" In some of the songs, the writing itself is just as strong or weak as it was before, depending on one's previous opinions of the band. In a few tracks, however, ("Bully" in particular) fan or otherwise, you may be pleasantly surprised at the depth they contain.
Overall Impression — 9
01. "Bitter Taste": They couldn't have picked a better track to start the album. A heavy, in-your-face song fans are sure to love. While it may not be the most original song the band has ever written, it's by far the most technically advanced, filled with fast rolls and solos. 02. "Break": Though cliche, "Break" is very enjoyable. The guitar work stands out as some of the best catchiest on the album. 03. "World So Cold": A soft, melodic track that, formulaic of grunge, breaks into a heavy, powerful chorus. Not their best work, but a solid song that holds it's own. The melody is great. 04. "Lost In You": A very catchy love song; new ground for the band. They preform beautifully. The intro riff almost sounds like something "Smashing Pumpkins would write. 05: "The Good Life": A powerful, energetic song that just makes you want to jump around to the beat. Guaranteed to get radio play eventually, and a lot of it. The "Riot" of this record, essentially. 06. "No More": This is, in my personal opinion, the strongest track on the album. The opening guitar riff is very strong, the entire song is emotionally powerful, yet catchy, and the solo is as incredibly emotional as it is simple. 07. "Last to Know": The low key piano sets off the mood to this sad ballad of lost love. Though somewhat predictable, the song leaves it mark. 08. "Someone Who Cares": Very catchy chorus and the musical breakdown is very interesting. The lyrics aren't the most inspiring, but they get the job done. 09: "Bully": The low, heavily distorted guitars create a lot of tension for what is the one of the most powerful and definitely the darkest song the band has ever written. "Maybe he just needed to be wanted." 10: "Without You": The sad tone of the song actually contradicts it's message in a way. Adam is basically singing about what his life would be like if his love ever left him. It sounds sad, but looking though it, it's hopeful, as are many of the band's songs. The solo isn't bad, but it doesn't particularly stand out. 11. "Goin' Down": I almost feel as if the chorus ruins this song. Not to say that it's bad, but the verse is so incredibly catchy that the more cliche chorus doesn't do it justice. Still a great song to listen to, but I feel as though it could've been better. 12: "Life Starts Now": The title track, the album's conclusion, is surprisingly and unfortunately the weakest song on the record. It sounds good and all, but there is nothing special at all about this cookie-cutter track. If it weren't the title track, I'd pass it off as a filler no question. A good solo could've saved it, but as it is, it seems incomplete. If I were to describe the "Life Starts Now" in one word, it would be powerful; definitely their most powerful to date in my opinion. Others may disagree. What is undeniable, however, is the fact that the production values, the musical depth, and overall "feel" of the album is more sturdy than ever. Whether you love 'em or hate 'em, Three Days Grace did what they set out to do: create a powerful album of hits, explore their musical style, and most importantly, clean out Adam's diary some more. ;) "Life Starts Now" is an excellent album that I'd highly recommend to any fan, past or present, of the band, genre, or rock in particular. A 9/10; truly amazing.