Review Summary: Far from One-X, but still worth a listen for true fans.
It's fair to say that mainstream rock is a dying breed, due in part to both the growing presence of dubstep (*shudder) and the relative omnipresence of hip-hop. Furthermore, because the art of mainstream rock is slowly fading away, bands often experiment with their sound to appeal to a larger audience, known colloquially as 'selling out'. I will not lie, after hearing the single for Transit of Venus, I was apprehensive as to what would be the quality of this album. However, Transit of Venus is actually a respectable album, albeit with its fair share of weaknesses.
This album kicks things off with the highly experimental 'Sign of the Times' a track that makes full use of electronic elements such as a synthesizer. This is a track that seems to remain under the radar because of the potential it has that ceases to come to fruition. Rather, the song repeats its lyrics and rhythm, a catchy rhythm, at that, but regardless a dissappointment. 'Sign of the Times' is also one of the few tracks on Transit of Venus in which the electronic elements are blatantly obvious, as, for the most part, the band is able to furtively include them in songs. Following 'Sign of the Times' are the tracks 'The High Road', 'Anonymous' and the album's lead single 'Chalk Outline', perennial tracks expected of Three days Grace, consisting of nihilistic lyrics and crunching guitar noises, and as such, they are the most solid tracks on the album. In fact, it is the absolute brilliance of these songs that saves the album from becoming another bit of mainstream rock's currently generic agenda.
From there, Transit of Venus descends into a bit of chaos, giving the impression that the band wanted to go in a different direction that what they actually recorded. 'Operate' is a prime example of this phenomenon, the beat and lyrics are primed and ready for a vicious assault from the band, but what we instead receive is a half-hearted wailing that implies the track was more of a B-side than LP worthy. Furthermore, the lyrics lack depth at this point, very apparent is track Happiness, where the chorus is the same subordinate clause repeated to the point of relative insanity on the listener's part "Happiness, straight from the bottle, when real life's too hard to swallow."The redeeming quality of these shallow tracks, however, is the relative catchiness of the songs beat, 'Misery Loves My Company' may possess rather unremarkable lyrics, but it certainly compensates for it with a beguiling tune. 'Give in to Me' is certainly a fascinating track that has the capacity to leave listener's confounded as to the overall quality of the cover. On the one hand, nobody can play a Michael Jackson song like the King of Pop himself, however, Three Days Grace does a satisfactory job creating a rock cover of a song other mainstream rock bands would likely stray away from.
By far the greatest weakness Transit of Venus exhibits is its generic-sounding second half. Tracks such as 'Broken Glass' possess a beat that is overused in the mainstream rock genre, and because of this, it is also a track that one tends to overlook very quickly. Even the softer songs, which Three Days Grace experienced some success with with Life Starts Now (Last to Know) fail to truly break the archetype that rock bands use when crafting such songs, elements such as the acoustic guitar offer a nice change of pace, but if and only if they are utilized correctly. 'Give Me a Reason' would be a laudable track, had it not hearkened back to songs such as 'Get Out Alive' and 'Last to Know', which immediately gives the song an aura of unoriginality and redundancy. As for 'Time that Remains' the song offers a promising tune and lyrics, but after giving it a listen, one may find themselves asking for more. That is, the song fails to offer a satisfactory conclusion, something that irked me on my first journey through this album. 'Expectations' is by far the best song on the album's concluding half, offering ingenuity and versatility in both composition and lyrics that is unprecedented in the musical domain of Three Days Grace. The song details the fall from grace of someone once of top of her world (Prom Queen) and focuses on the concept of 'Expect the Unexpected'. Finally, the album concludes with 'Unbreakable Heart', a song eerily similar to the title track of One-X, both in mood and lyrical style.
Overall, this album is a solid piece of alternative rock that Three Days Grace can add to their repertoire, but if you were expecting the next One-X, you will be slightly disappointed.