Review Summary: It ain't a classic rock material, but it is some of the best that 00's hard rock/post grunge has to offer.
It's been 3 years since Three Days Grace took over the rock radio with instant radio hits "I Hate Everything About You" and "Just Like You". While these singles aren't all that thought-provocing and complexly written, they're instantly memorable and quickly became iconic for the post grunge and 2000's hard rock genre. Were they generic - sure, can be said, but the songwritting was good enough to please the masses, since there were lot better songs on the self titled debut. That record was filled with some hard-hitting powerchord riffs (which are Three Days Grace standard) and emotional (sometimes deep, other times kind of shallow) lyrics mixed with Adam Gontier's amazing voice. That's the one thing that can't be denied.
They entered a more dark period when Adam entered the rehab. While he was there, him and the band already started to write lyrics for the follow-up that was meant to be released in 2006. The final resutlt ended up being called "One-X"
Musically, One-X doesn't stray too much from the selt-titled, but it improves in pretty much any way. Lyricism is much more personal and dark, as some of those were written while he was still in rehabilitation. With addition of Barry Stock they got themselves another guitar, and while it still sounds for the most part that only one is being played,there are some moments when lead guitar kicks in to deliver the solo or add to the rhythm part of some of the riffs.
The riffs are much stronger than the last time around, they have way more groove and power to them. The best example of all this is the lead single "Animal I Have Become". Unforgettable bassline, amazing riff, infectious melody, lyrics about how addiction turns you into the monster, all matched with Adam's raspy and convincing voice that sounds fantastic for the biggest part of the record. "Riot" also uses angry and aggressive (but not too aggressive) lyrics backed up by a cool chord progression and one of the best riffs ever writtem by the band. It is really just an anthem that was made for everyone to scream along in live concerts.
Ballads don't disappoint either, all being very depressing, but also kind of chilling, especially on songs like "Never Too Late" and "Over and Over". They sure do follow some formula, mainly in the hooks, but Three Days Grace really nails it on nearly every part. The choruses are instant sing-alongs without being annoying, the songs are filled with emotion and desperation, and this reaches its high point on the true highlight "Get Out Alive", which is again about struggle with addiction, and consequences of it. The riff is borderline haunting, distortion kicks halfway through and it all sounds so well put together and you almost feel like you're in Adam's position at that moment. That's true also for the likes of rather generic "Pain", furious opener "It's All Over" and very fitting closing title track.
The theme is very consistent throughout, while still varied enough to keep it from becoming stale. It's tightly structured and well-executed and the production takes a big step up from the s/t. Bass sounds decent and it is pretty audible on some of the tunes, while the drums, well, still don't add too much to the equation, since Neil Sanderson uses very standard rhtyhm keeping techniques that really can't stand out in any way. They sometimes even sound more digital than they should be.
While the flow of the record is great, there are couple of filler moments like "Let It Die", and even the title track which feels overly long, and "On My Own" is on the other hand too short. However that does not kill any momentum or anything, since the tracks in between ("Time of Dying", "Gone Forever") make up for them greatly.
"One-X" is overall a very strong record, really good follow up and a must listen especially if you're fan of radio rock. But honestly even if you hate mainstream rock music, Three Days Grace's songwritting does not include any casual mysogyny or any tacky lyric and musical choices. Some cheesy lines can be found here and there, and some purists may find lyrics a bit elementary, but they do come from and honest, genuine place. It really reduces most generic elements and distinguishes themselves from other rock bands of the era. Again, it ain't a classic rock material, but it is some of the best that 00's hard rock/post grunge has to offer.