Review Summary: While Three Days Grace haven’t grown up too much lyrically, Transit of Venus sees the band grow out of recycled alternative metal riffs enough to provide an album that packs a more walloping punch than any of their others.
For those who got their hopes up that Three Days Grace have made attempts to be more ambitious in the thematic department with their fourth studio album, it’s unfortunate to say that Transit of Venus is disappointingly not a concept album revolving around the theme of the actual solar event that the band has been so heavily alluring to in promotion of this album. The lyrics and themes on Transit don’t see a shift towards anything really inventive or new to the band, which is a let down in that the supposed significance of the connection between the hyped solar event and the album are never taken advantage of, let alone fully realized.
Front-man Adam Gontier prefers to stay in a familiar safe-zone with his writing, churning out the same angsty bile that he had for the first two Three Days Grace albums. However, after the positive purpose-searching outlook he adopted for TDG’s previous album Life Starts Now, this return to TDG’s more darker mood is warmly welcome even if it is in a sense back-treading, as the emotional impact doesn’t feel as shallow here as it did on the anything but inspirational motivational speaking of Life Starts Now’s lyrical content.
Lyrically, the album is actually most alike the group’s self-titled debut. While that album’s successor and arguably their most successful album One-X was depressive, vulnerable, and without a doubt the band’s darkest album, the lyrics on Transit of Venus have more of a confidence and strength to them, a will for resolution to conflicts that recalls their debut’s more post-hardcore influenced attitude. Gontier identifies his issues and makes an empowering stand to fight against them in the many athematic radio-rockers on Transit of Venus, instead of wallowing in them like he has in the past on One-X.
This makes for a refreshing balance between dark moods and one’s with a more positive outlook, making it sort of a advancement upon the group’s subject matter that finds a nice middle-ground between the two contrasting opposite tones of their previous albums One-X and Life Starts Now. It’s not the most experimental or drastically different change, but a noticeable change nonetheless.
The more attention-grabbing alterations that compliment the lyrics greatly is Gontier’s matured and refined delivery. Gontier performs in an almost suave manner, adding a sort of sly swagger to his vocal style. He’s not just pleading the tortured soul act anymore, he attempts to be snappy when delivering hooks in a near-jazzy fashion. Unfortunately though, the albums hooks are anything but catchy, overstuffed with too many words in a seemingly rushed and awkward pacing to really ever fully stick with the listener.
But lyrics and how they’re delivered aren’t the only point worth mentioning about this album, because the most standout adjustment to the band’s sound, and the primary aspect that makes Transit of Venus separate from the rest of TDG’s discography is the much increased proficiency of the music itself. Three Days Grace has broken from their typical formula of rehashed alternative metal riffs, and have made a record where the production is surprisingly visceral at frequent points, giving the music a wide and spacious depth were there are many layers and different elements abound.
These elements provide the guitars with a much bigger bang than ever before, with integration of more guitar solos into songs and experimentation with different tunings and effects. The album is also more reliant on a variety of keyboards, such as the organ on the opening track “Sign of the Times” and the synthesizer that puts more emphasis on the beat of the album’s lead single “Chalk Outline”. These changes make Transit of Venus full of unique and surprising sounds that distinguish it musically from the rest of the band’s catalog and most other contemporary modern rock bands in general as well, such as the carnival-esque funk that the track “Expectations” touts.
Though it shows much more growth musically than it does lyrically on first impression, Transit of Venus is a fairly offbeat affair for an alternative metal band, and a sensible progression for Three Days Grace. Even if its ambitions are a bit feeble when compared to other band’s musical pursuits, Transit of Venus shows Three Days not completely in the spirit of moping, or attempting to inspire, but truly in the rocking spirit more than they have ever been.