Review Summary: Following up their previous magnum opus, the Canadian hard rockers nearly match it by adding a glimmer of sunlight into the mix, and it pays dividends.
Ten years ago, Three Days Grace found themselves coming off extensive touring in support of their massively successful album One-X
. That album didn't just sell a lot of copies, it also captivated the listening masses and positioned the group as perhaps the biggest
band in mainstream rock going at the time. When it came time for a follow up, the central question was whether or not the band could even come close to its predecessor. And I'm happy to report that, even as it now turns ten years old, Life Starts Now
matches the album that came before it almost perfectly.
was a result of the demons that nearly took Adam Gontier's life just prior to its writing, Life Starts Now
was an attempt by Adam and company to add a hint of positivity to the formula. Of course, the grittier hard rock edge still serves as the primary composition, but the lyrical content adds new staying power to Three Days Grace's already powerful and cathartic blueprint. As you progress through these twelve tracks, you won't find a group merely lingering in the anguish but finding the strength to transcend it and inspire listeners to do the same.
The damn good
album opener "Bitter Taste" is one of the best exemplars of this philosophy. Whereas Adam might have been too broken to conquer his vices and temptations before, this time around he's in complete control and has no tolerance to spare for whoever's done him wrong. Barry Stock's guitar work is instantly recognizable and his fantastic solo on the song's bridge is just too much fun to not enjoy. The bulk of the instrumental can't be forgotten either; it utterly batters the listener. "Break" is hands down the best
song this band ever cut. The blistering instrumentals remain a perfect compliment to Adam's raspy, signature vocal work. Once again, the composition is just good clean fun at worst, but the thematic tension can't be overlooked. "If you can't stand the way this place is, take yourself to higher places," Gontier taunts his former muse.
"World So Cold" toys with the brevity of life. While it marks a return to the torment that occupied the group's past work lyrically, it's a fresh take and a fresh perspective. Adam isn't calling out to someone he fought to break free from, but rather someone he wishes he could have back. "Lost in You" follows suit, with Gontier beckoning the listener to let him back inside. "The Good Life" is another upbeat serving of textbook Three Days Grace. The lyrical content isn't a point of priority, it merely takes a backseat to some crunching guitar riffs from Stock, purposeful drumming from Neil Sanderson and solid bass from Brad Walst.
"Last to Know" is another one of the best tracks the group has ever done. It starts as a simplistically dragged out instrumental, with Gontier calling out to a love that's left him behind. But suddenly, the song shifts gears. As loud and poignant instrumentals kick in towards the end, Adam turns the tables. "I'll be the first to say that now I'm okay," he proclaims. If you've ever gone through a messy breakup, this is the tune to help you on the road to recovery. This track is nothing short of an epiphany, with Adam coming to the realization that there is life after a love gone sour, and it pays off in every way.
"Goin' Down" is another chance Adam takes to transcend his previous torment. "Never thought I was crazy until you came around," he cries out. The album meets its emotional summit with its closing title cut, "Life Starts Now." From this writer's perspective, this track is an example of Adam recognizing he's a beacon of hope to millions of listeners out there and this track sees him promising them brighter days ahead. "You will survive this somehow," he empathically repeats. To put it simply, if Adam Gontier can find the light at the end of the tunnel, you can too, and this newfound hope not only punctuates the overall theme of Life Starts Now
, but also brings it to a close.
This album may not quite
top the highs that One-X
soared to, but it doesn't have to. It doesn't simply stand nearly equal to the predecessor, it carves out its own path and its own niche. Sure, there's plenty of heartbreak to go around on this album, but Three Days Grace showed they are no one trick pony. They proved they could add a touch of hope and sunlight to their familiar layout and make it work too. And of course, the beauty of Three Days Grace's music is that you don't necessarily need to strap in for an emotional attachment. The instrumental and vocal work found here is just so God damn fun, so that alone should suffice as well. Life Starts Now
is another all time favorite of mine, produced by one of the best mainstream rock bands to ever grace the airwaves.