Sound — 7
Since the band's debut release in 2003, Three Days Grace has seemed to divide audiences quite strongly, with one side proclaiming their passionate take on rock and the other testifying that the band's songs are too simplistic and mediocre. The interesting thing is that these groups are both a little bit right. The simplicity of Three Days Grace's song constructions will earn them a cushy spot on the radio playlist and some concert sing-alongs, but it will also alienate audiences seeking out music that goes somewhere different than the majority of mainstream rock bands. Fronted by Adam Gontier and backed by bassist Brad Walst, drummer Neil Sanderson, and guitarist Barry Stock, Three Days Grace offers up a collection of straightforward rock on its latest release One-X. The 12 tracks tend to project similar sounds and themes, not usually venturing into new territory or even into song arrangements. The result is often a less-than thrilling one, especially if you prefer your rock to feature a variety of dynamic guitar licks and percussive rhythms. The first track, All Over, starts out with an unusual and enticing guitar intro, complete with lingering feedback at the end. The rest of the song does not carry the same unique detail as the intro, but the Three Days Grace fans that enjoyed the debut release will likely be satisfied with its basic rock appeal. The guitar solo makes the song worth the listen, but as a beginning track, All Over doesn't really set a furious enough pace. Most of the tunes on One-X follow the same trend as the first track, featuring a promising beginning that quickly transforms into predictable, chord-based verses and choruses. With the majority of each song focusing on the chorus, all the neat little guitar licks are unfortunately brushed aside. A good example of this trend is the closing tune One which starts off with a subtle and moving intro that draws you in. But when the song abruptly moves into chorus, it loses almost all of its originality. Even with a few of the tracks featuring catchy choruses, the record as a whole just does not feel unique enough to be a memorable listen. Gontier's singing style is to be commended. He has the ability to go from a hushed, angelic tone and then transition into a growling cry. Both of these styles are effective and producer Howard Benson has created some nice harmonies to layer Gontier's main vocal line. Gontier's strong vocal performance could explain why the band has garnered the success they've had -- when you hear an infectious vocal, you might have a powerful urge to sing along, not to mention buy the record.
Lyrics — 7
What seems to be the most discouraging part of Three Days Grace's One-X is the band's predictably moody lyrics. The dark, angry lyrical content would be fine if the words didn't sound so much the same in each song. And to top it off, it too often feels like lyrics that a misanthropic teenager would write. In Gontier sings lines that will prove be the primary theme of almost every song on the record. You feel so empty; So used, so let down; If you feel so angry; So ripped off, so stepped on; You're not the only one. And as if it was the exact same song, is laid out with uncanny similarities: Sick of feeling down; You're not the only one; I'll take you by the hand; And I'll show you a world that you can understand. When you hear the same sentiment in each chorus of every song, it tends to lose the very thing that probably inspired such songs in the first place -- the passion. With all the predictability in the lyrics, it should be said that plenty of people might feel a kinship to bands that write darker, angrier lyrics. That is a powerful connection that should not be ignored. Once again, what might be one person's irritation can be another person's salvation.
Overall Impression — 7
Three Days Grace will likely still satisfy its existing fans with the latest release of One-X. It has the same accessible rock sound that does not delve too far into guitar solos and keeps the focus on the vocal element. Given the fact that Gontier does have the ability to take on the task of either a ballad or a heavier tune, it's never an unpleasing experience to hear what the band has to offer. But relying on a good vocal singing and a simple melody is just not enough to make One-X stand out from the heaps of other radio-friendly rock bands out today. If the band can push its songwriting limits and focus more on creating new, captivating guitar, bass, or drum lines, Three Days Grace would unite all those music lovers who have been so divided about its sound -- and that would amount to quite an impressive fan base.