Review Summary: The magic is gone....
What happened, Three Days Grace? I was convinced this would never happen to you. I thought you had the talent, the experience and the staying power to avoid this. I convinced myself that Life Starts Now
was just a small misstep. I knew you were fully capable of writing another album as solid as the self titled or One X
. So what happened? You don’t sound like yourself. To put it more accurately, you sound like a shell of yourself. You used to be intense and emotional, but now you sound so…. boring. The passion that you poured so eloquently into songs like “Never Too Late”, “Scared”, and “World So Cold” is long gone. Life Starts Now
was not a bad album, but there were times that the band’s confidence faltered; they didn’t sound as strong or convincing as they once did. Unfortunately, it seems that Transit of Venus
took the worst qualities of Life Starts Now
by the handlebars and steered them straight into the depths of mediocrity. The band took a decent shot at tweaking their sound a bit and throwing in some new elements, but Transit of Venus
is an incredibly disappointing affair that leads one to wonder that Adam Gontier and company have run out of gas.
Arguably the biggest problem with Transit of Venus
is that it tries to do a bit too much for its own good. Three Days Grace have added plenty of new elements to their music that they had never used before in an attempt to make the songs more interesting, but in doing so, they have unknowingly sapped the life out of the actual songwriting; and ironically, this is what makes them less interesting. “Sign of the Times” utilizes a spacey, lengthy introduction “Chalk Outline” dabbles around in electronics throughout its entire duration and “Expectations” fiddles with odd time signatures. The problem lies in the fact that aside from the former, these songs aren’t in the least bit fun to listen to, nor do they ever evoke the urge to hit the replay button. The aforementioned “Sign of the Times” is by far the most interesting piece of music Three Days Grace has put to paper, with a minute plus of ambient introduction layered with eerie, processed vocals leading into a breakneck-paced rolling riff, topped with some of the most interesting lyrics ever heard from Gontier. If the rest of the record followed in similar fashion, they could have had something extremely solid going for them, but it’s funny how things like that work, isn’t it? “Chalk Outline” uses its electronic buffering and distorted guitar chucks as a crutch instead of a supplement, meandering around for 3 minutes with virtually no purpose whatsoever. "Anonymous" is an entirely unremarkable mid-tempo rocker, containing clean guitars looping up and down through the verses seemingly out of key and a chorus that contains no melody or catchiness whatsoever. “Misery Loves My Company” is an angsty number that recalls Three Days Grace songs of old, such as “Animal I Have Become”, but done in a much less inspired, boring-as-all-hell fashion. Are you sensing a trend here? Three Days Grace have added a few new elements here and there, but the core of their sound has not really changed at all; it just became much more tired. None of these songs are necessarily bad…. They’re just not necessarily good, either.
The phrase “the problem starts at the top” is commonly used in today’s culture, and for Three Days Grace, “the top” is Adam Gontier. The talented vocalist has his signature gruff rasp tuned to almost a science, but something with him is not right on Transit of Venus
. It’s not necessarily that his vocals have declined, but he does not sound nearly as engaged or emotional as he once did. In songs like “Time of Dying”, you could practically hear the emotion and pain oozing out of his vocal chords; not the case in Transit of Venus
. He fails at sounding genuine 100% of the time as he should; even in the heavier numbers like “Chalk Outline” and “Happiness”, where he is undoubtedly singing at the top of his lungs, his performance is just not as inspired and moving as it was before. In fact, there are times where his voice sounds almost IRRITATING; I’m looking at you, “Operate”. The chorus of album closer “Unbreakable Heart” is almost obnoxious in nature, with Gontier caterwauling “HEARRRRTTTTTT” as if he were being thrown off a cliff. He briefly flashes the emotion he was so skilled at conveying in “The High Road”, one of the only true highlight tracks, but as far as his performance goes on this album, you may be left extremely underwhelmed.
One last problem this album suffers from is that there’s just too many damn songs; I went to check the length of the album as a whole, and it turns out it’s just a shade over 41 minutes. That blew my mind; I was confident at one point I had been listening for at least 50 minutes, but that does tend to happen with albums in which the majority of the songs sound similarly uninspired. There are thirteen tracks on this record, and only one of them cracks 3 and a half minutes in length. Did they really have so little substance to work with to make the album so short?
I truly hoped Transit of Venus
would be a full return to form for Three Days Grace. Unfortunately, they have seemed to turn things around for the worse; and until they can write songs with as much emotion as they once did, we could be looking at another three year wait to receive something that sounds even more trepid.