Review Summary: Three Days Grace pull a Linkin Park, with roughly similar results.
In music, as in any other form of media, it is relatively simple and useful to establish comparisons; and, as with any other form of art, some of these comparisons come easier than others. Sometimes, the common traits linking two bands or artists are blatantly evident, but it is just as often easy to miss the similarities until they are evidenced by a particular album or song.
Such is the case with Three Days Grace and Linkin Park. At first glance, the two acts may appear to have little in common, but a closer inspection reveals otherwise. To wit: both bands got started in the early 2000's, when they captured the hearts of millions of teenagers with their catchy, radio-friendly brand of quasi-heavy rock; both followed a groundbreaking debut with an even stronger sophomore effort, which improved on the strengths shown in the earlier outing; and, as Transit Of Venus
proves, both then set about undoing all of their hard work by taking a tyre-screeching turn towards electronics.
For that is, essentially, what happens on this fourth outing by the Canadian trio: Three Days Grace "pull a Linkin Park", peppering their sound with pronounced electronic influences and losing some of their previous heaviness in the process. Predictably, the results are scarcely better than they were for the Californians, and see the band wallow about in the murky waters dividing genuine progression from their traditional sound, seemingly unable to reach out for either.
The first problem preventing the trio from reaching new heights with this album may be the exceedingly formulaic nature of its songs. The overwhelming majority of these thirteen tracks follow a rigidly defined blueprint, revolving around melancholy, electronic-tinged verses which may or may not explode into a trademark Three Days Grace chorus. Here and there, the odd track deviates from the formula - Anonymous
are more traditional TDG rockers, while Time That Remains
makes an attempt at something softer - but imagining an album full of crosses between Get Out Alive
and World So Cold
would, sadly, not be far from the reality of Transit Of Venus
As formulaic as the album is, however, it does work now and again, particularly in the early goings. Opener Sign Of The Times
slinks by anonymously, but is then picked up by singles Chalk Outline
and traditional rocker The High Road
, three good, old fashioned Three Days Grace tracks that do offer a glimmer of hope for the remainder of this album. Outline
has the type of chorus where the last line is telegraphed from the minute the first is uttered, and triumphs on the back of that glorious predictability; Anonymous
is a traditional mid-tempo stomper, with the kind of huge chorus the band is known for, and Road
sees perhaps the best balance of TDG's traditional style and their new-found electronic influences. Further on, the damaging effects of the nondescript Operate
(a failed attempt at creating a new Animal I Have Become
which comes off sounding like any number of up-tempo Nickelback tracks) and the indecently bad Misery Loves My Company
(02:42 which feel like at least twice that) are minimised by Give In To Me
- a track which sees the Canadians tackle a Michael Jackson cover and come out with significantly more dignity than like-minded rockers Alien Ant Farm a decade or so previously.
Unfortunately, after Give In To Me
, the album unravels. Happiness
squanders the rockiest riff of TDG's career in a perfectly pedestrian cut, and it all goes downhill from there. Give Me A Reason
and Unbreakable Heart
try to stake their claim as Three Days Grace's Breaking The Habit
, blissfully unaware that that has already been accomplished - superiorly - with Get Out Alive
; the former in particular treads eerily close to the Linkin Park hit, although realised nowhere near as competently, and not helped in the slightest by lyrics such as "feed off me/like a vulture on a deer/hit by a car
. Elsewhere, Time That Remains
falls short of the potential contained in its slower, acoustic approach, and the unspeakably awful Broken Glass
contends with Misery Loves My Company
for the title of worst thing on the album. As such, it falls to Expectations
to provide the sole standout on an otherwise dire second half of the album - which it does more on the back of its interesting lyrics than any musical or compositive prowess on the band's part.
When all is said and done, then, Transit Of Venus
is one of those frustrating albums which had considerably more potential than it shows. Despite the evident attempts at maturation - reflected, most of all, in Adam Gontier's lyrics, which have finally moved away from whiny teenage angst and towards something a tad more general - these 13 tracks find the band incapable of either fully maturing or reverting back to their original sound. The flirtatons with electronics are half-baked, the attempts to recreate their old hits insincere (giving rise to the worst moments on the album) and the confusion evident. While it does edge out Life Starts Now
is, sadly, still a long way off the quiet confidence of One-X
- a status, it appears, the band may never be able to regain. To make matters worse, nothing on this fourth effort by the Canadian trio is even as strong as World So Cold
comes closest), meaning the album may not even have the one song to be remembered by - a worrisome situation when it applies to a band as chorus-centric as Three Days Grace.
Transit Of Venus
is, therefore, the first dud in a season of successful comebacks, and leaves the impression that, unless the band can come up with something truly special on their next outing, their Three Days Grace may be about to expire.
Give In To Me