Review Summary: A solid sophomore album that does what it says on the tin.
The general consensus for Adam Gontier’s departure over at Three Days Grace was nothing short of devastating news for both its fans and the band itself – whether the band care to admit that fact to the public or not. I have a stance with post-Gontier Three Days Grace that sits in between utter indifference and mild enjoyment; I don’t get the fervent hate some people have for Matt Walst’s albums, I actually think Matt has done a pretty good job of holding the band together, all things considered. The problem is that Gontier has such a distinct and enticing voice, it’s understandable why some people would get antsy over Three Days Grace’s central focus packing his bags to pursue new ventures “on his own terms
”. However, as I puff on my smoking pipe – dressed in my deerstalker hat and Victorian overcoat – and look through my magnifying glass, it seems his departure from the band couldn’t be anything other than internal politics. The evidence is as clear as day, all you need to do is check out Gontier’s current project to see what I mean. Saint Asonia, and this album in particular, is solid work. I can’t refute the obvious; this is good, wholesome, stadium filling radio-rock, filled with ear-pleasing melodies and some decent guitar work. But let’s not detract from my point, and that point is a big one: Saint Asonia is sonically echoic and bears a striking resemblance to that of Gontier’s original band. Which begs the question on what the point of this band is if not because of politics and disagreements within Three Days Grace?
Regardless, for those chomping at the bit to know, Flawed Design
is a better album than anything poor Matt Walst has produced with Three Days Grace thus far, but it isn’t by a landslide and it can’t claim to be a classier piece of work either. It’s also a slightly stronger offering to that of their 2015 debut; a more refined experience with slightly punchier and sharper songwriting. The glaring draw to this type of music is the voice, and Adam gives a really great performance throughout and, mostly, holds your interest until the end. He hits all the beats and manages to deliver big choruses that are setup by verses which fluctuate in quality. The music is the business as usual riffing you’ve come to hear from the likes of Breaking Benjamin and Red a million times over, but as with the more modern stylings of the aforementioned bands, the music is grander in scale: piano, string arrangements and synth are all there to give the chuggy riffs a more dramatic boost. Where Flawed Design
gets most of its praises is in the little nuggets that are sprinkled sparsely throughout songs. “Beast” is a prime example of this and starts off as a bog-standard alt-rock-writing 101 arrangement – tanked in the generic melodies and riffs you’ve come to expect for the verses and choruses – but the track begins to find itself for twenty seconds at the interlude, delivering a left-field grinding riff with a really effective melody from Gontier to support it. It’s such a standout moment that leaves you pining for more, and ultimately resulted in me trudging back through its banality again just to get another taste. The album is proportionally balanced with really dull writing but intensely strong ideas that elevate the experience: the strong choruses in “Another Fight”, “Sirens” and “Flawed Design” are inherently supported by these uninteresting verses, thus bringing a tug of war which prevents songs from truly flourishing.
Keeping to the theme of harmonious balance, the cathartic fragments in Flawed Design
are there, but then there’s also some really strange moments that range from emotional cringe to bewilderment – ironically stemming from the guest spots on the record. Sharon Den Adel’s performance on “Sirens” is nothing short of cheesy and unnecessary for what the track could have achieved; it’s a strong number that is stained with a potent and sugary power metal melody that lingers for the song’s duration. “The Hunted” is another one, not that the track was ever a standout piece to begin with, but its obscure breakdown, fronted by Sully Erna, does more damage than good and feels so out of place from everything else the song has presented that it makes you wonder why they shoehorned it in there in the first place. My perception of Flawed Design
probably reads negatively, but in truth it’s a solid alt-rock album. It nails all of the beats one looks for in this type of music, and for those fans they will find a good portion of enjoyment here. It’s just flummoxing to see Adam Gontier leaving an established brand just to write the exact same music outside of Three Days Grace. This album is perfectly competent, albeit derivative, but has a peppering of some really standout moments as well as some dumbfounding ones. As a fan of Gontier, I can openly say he’s still writing good music, but let’s not kid ourselves into thinking he’s making anything inordinate or different to what Three Days Grace is – or the majority of the bands in this genre for that matter.
FORMAT//EDITIONS: DIGITAL/̶/̶C̶D̶/̶/̶V̶I̶N̶Y̶L̶/̶/̶V̶A̶R̶I̶O̶U̶S̶ ̶B̶U̶N̶D̶L̶E̶S̶
SPECIAL EDITION BONUSES: N/A
ALBUM STREAM//PURCHASE: https://saintasonia.merchnow.com/