Review Summary: One-X is the crown jewel of Three Days Grace's discography, an album both they and their contemporaries may never come close to touching again.
What makes an album special" Your mileage may vary, and that question solicits different answers from different people, but I think some mitigating factors are just universal. For me personally, an album has to achieve a few things. For one, it has to connect with me on some emotional level. But also, it must be well performed to the point where I can revisit it years later and still prefer it over the kind of content that's being churned out in the industry today. Three Days Grace's One-X
does that for me and as the album turns twelve years old today, it still has yet to give me reason not to come back to it.
I'm still captivated by the emotional weight that led to this album's release, it's a story of suffering and introspection that hasn't been lost on me in the intervening years since I discovered both this album and the band's discography at large. Lead vocalist Adam Gontier was coming off two years of widespread touring behind the band's successful debut album, when he developed an addiction to the prescription painkiller OxyContin, checked himself into rehabilitation and penned lyrics that would appear on One-X
just several months later. His story of battling his addictions, his own personal demons and not knowing himself anymore not only has given the band's earliest discography a personal touch, but left a lasting impact both on me and millions of fans and listeners across the globe.
From the brooding opening moments of "It's All Over", it's quite evident Adam Gontier has gone somewhere deep within himself to bring these lyrics to life. Gontier addresses the listener as if to question them for their poor decisions, but it could very be the man in the mirror Gontier is calling out to. "Pain" sees Gontier's tortured soul at odds, obviously longing for recompense, but also conflicted and almost relishing in the anguish. Barry Stock's crunching riffs and Neil Sanderson's drumming carry this track along, one of the band's catchiest. "Animal I Have Become" is straight from the depths of hell, written specifically by Gontier about his experience with drug abuse and his own demons. "So what if you can see the darkest side of me"" Gontier taunts the listener before pleading out to them, "help me believe it's not the real me. Somebody help me tame this animal I have become."
The anthemic "Never Too Late" sees Adam less concerned with combatting his own struggles and more with lending a helping hand to those out there who are just like him. The wistful solemnity can't go unnoticed, but it's through this track a glimmer of light creeps it way through the shadows and I feel that's why the song is so universal. At their lowest point, anyone can take solace in these lyrics and I think that sets both the song and Three Days Grace themselves apart from their contemporaries. "On My Own" sees Gontier vowing to forge ahead with his life and to do better, while "Riot" is a fun, up-tempo release of some of the angst and aggression that's built up to this point. The cryptic cautions of "Get Out Alive" are almost left entirely to the listener's interpretation. Whatever vice or struggle it may be, Gontier urges the listener to "run for your life", backed by eerie bass from Brad Walst, omnious riffs from Barry Stock and a high level of production value that almost enhances the tension of this track.
"Let It Die" sees Adam breaking away from someone he has realized has become toxic for him. Bluntly proclaiming, "I just don't care about you anymore", Adam has visibly changed over the eight tracks we've trekked through thus far. As the album began, Gontier was crying out for help anywhere he could find it, but is now a voice of reason lending advice and encouragement to the listener. "Over and Over" shows it's easier said than done to simply shake these inner struggles away. ("So here I go again, chasing you down again. Why do I do this"") It's another mid-tempo jam that lets the listener dedicate the woeful lyrics to whatever they feel they should. Be it a drug, an addiction, a former flame, the crestfallen admission of loving what you know you shouldn't makes for one of the highlights of One-X
"Time of Dying" trades in lyrical introspection for the chance to just jam out. Not to toy with simplicity, but this track is a banger and its fun, rollicking energy makes it a rightful fan favorite. Adam's smooth, raspy vocals are perfectly suited for the composition, the blistering instrumental work aids Gontier perfectly and it's another album highlight. "Gone Forever" sees some of Adam's best vocal chops shine brightly once again, bidding a final farewell to the demons that have tried to haunt him through his personal progression over the course of the album. The closing title track "One-X" is an uplifting call for unity by Adam to those around him. Backed by smooth basslines and some ebullient lead guitar, it's another chance Three Days Grace takes to let the listener know they're not alone and it closes One-X
out on the best terms possible.
is a masterpiece and I highly doubt a band in mainstream rock, including Three Days Grace themselves can come even remotely close to touching again. The band didn't skim through a thesaurus to figure out how to beat the listener over the head with a mastery of the English language. Instead, they, namely Adam of course, channeled their own personal struggles and molded them into a beacon of hope for listeners who may be contending with the same problems. The emotional weight of the album is the bedrock for what makes Three Days Grace stand alone in their genre, and it's an album I'll be both forever grateful for, but also always eager to revisit. Not only are the songs so well performed and easy to listen to, but the lyrics age like a fine wine and can be applied to any life situation, even as you grow older and confront new challenges. Easily one of my favorite albums of all time.