Review Summary: Here's to being Human, taking it for granted...
Best album up to this point.
Yes, I said it.
So-called Three Days Grace fans that refuse to listen to this (and the next) album will only end up stuck with a momentary glance of this band’s development and lose interest in them altogether – leaving them in the past.
Gontier was their hero, who is this new guy?
He can’t possibly live up to a frontman like Adam…
“Matt’s got a lot of energy. It was like a reset, in a way, he just re-energized the band. We didn’t have much time to think about it – he had five weeks to prepare for a major US Arena Tour. He immediately jumped and, just, kicked ass…”
- Brad Walst, Loudwire, 2015
“He knows all the contents of the songs, even the ones he didn’t sing in the past. He knows the stories, he knows where they came from, he knows what we were all going through at the time – because he was going through it, too…”
- Barry Stock, Loudwire, 2015
“A lot of people don’t actually know that Matt co-wrote on the first Three Days Grace album, as well as ‘Transit of Venus’ and, all of a sudden, he’s obviously all over this one…”
- Neil Sanderson, Loudwire, 2015
… Can’t he?
“Q: Do you still feel like the new guy in the band?
A: I’ll always be the new guy…”
- Matt Walst, Audacy, 2019
Neither disputing nor invalidating that point, I will say this, Gontier was the voice of an entire generation of angsty teenagers who flocked to their arenas as fans and screamed his choruses at the top of their lungs – but here’s the thing – teenagers grow up, eventually, and the old music just doesn’t resonate to the tune of, let’s say, a young adult audience.
So, in comes Matt Walst – wider vocal range, sonically searing licks and lyrics that are just as thematically sound (if not more).
Matt is competent and more than qualified to fill that role, and ‘Human’ is especially par to the previous 6 releases (My Darkest Days catalogue included.)
But don’t worry, his is the only new placement in the line-up.
So, it’s just the usual crew with a new singer, right?
The band could’ve easily changed their name at this point and this album would still rip from the underground up.
But they didn’t.
What we have here is effectively a Three Days Grace 2.0 – bigger, better, more developed and well defined, harder, faster, stronger…
You get the jist.
“This whole thing we went through in the last few years has made us even tighter as a unit. We’re closer than we’ve ever been.”
- Barry Stock, Loudwire, 2015
Notably taking off from the more electronically charged passages from Transit of Venus (Chalk Outline, Sign of the Times, The High Road) and turning them, here, into a well-rounded, experiential motif – where before they gave off the feeling of being experimental outbursts.
‘Human Race’ is a perfect example and opener to this record – not to mention, the most un-ironic thing a new vocalist can open the album with;
“I don’t belong here…”
An easy-riding drum beat. A symphonic delivery.
Is that a solo I hear?
They’ve had them before, yes, but never this accented.
Easily the most memorable song, introducing the new sound which defines the record.
Honestly, it’s one rope away from being a Linkin Park song (yes).
Reminds me of ‘The Catalyst’ off ‘A Thousand Suns’, and I’m not complaining.
Not just musically, but lyrically as well – especially in retrospect to the previous four releases - ‘Human’ brings us a “running theme”.
Three Days Grace, now with Matt, give us a new outlook to replace the old.
The texts and themes within are not too far removed from anything previous, but come from a different point of view.
It’s no longer about the void you feel and the drugs you get to fill it – it’s about how many it takes to pop before your final breakdown at the final one – and why in the motherloving f%#k you shouldn’t be doing it.
Any of it.
“We had a good time, man, a lot of laughs. I think we spent more time joking around in the studio than actually recording…”
- Brad Walst, Loudwire, 2015
Drug addiction is out (It’s All Over, Animal I Have Become, Operate).
Drug paranoia – and getting over it – is in (One Too Many and, later, Chasing the First Time).
It’s no longer “Let’s wreck this world” (Riot, Broken Glass).
Now, it’s just “F@#k it” (So What).
You can read ‘Car Crash’ as watching the life of someone close to you crashing and burning in slow motion – or just a plain ol’ car crash.
I smile when I see the band going from ‘Pain’ to ‘Painkiller’ – the best choice for first single off this record.
‘I Am Machine’ is a beast of a song and already a 3DG classic – encapsulating perfectly what this album is all about.
‘Ladmine’ is exactly what it is – ready to blow – and, along with ‘So What’, a great song for joy-riding.
‘The Real You’ is a relaxing closer, especially after the electromagnetic onslaught of all that came before it.
‘Nothing’s Fair in Love and War’ – oh boy.
A war song.
At least – a song about a soldier going through the psychological damage of being turned into a killing machine, as well as the physical trauma.
Bravo, Three Days.
“Here’s to being human, all the pain and suffering
There’s beauty in the bleeding, at least you’re feeling something
I wish I knew what it was like to care enough to carry on,
I wish I knew what it was like to find a place where I belong
- ‘I Am Machine’
That cover art ain’t for show – this whole album is a human heart beating inside a robotic ribcage with no other choice left, clawing it’s way out.
Machines are everywhere; whether they be societal ones, personal ones, machines of war or the musical ones found in every second of this production.
Society and all that comes with it can sometimes come upon us as one big machine and, more often than not, we can’t help but feel like we’re just nothing but cogs within it, keeping it running.
But we’re not.
And our four horsemen are here to tell us exactly why in the hell we’re not.
Matt’s harsh, processed vocals.
Barry’s edgy, metallic guitar tone.
Neil’s banging, laser-focused drums.
Brad’s metal-strung basslines.
Machinations of synthesizers, keyboards, computer samples, fills and layers.
The lyrics, human.
The vibe, machine.
Everyday stresses, car crashes, drug addiction aftermath dealings, loss of loved ones, PTSD.
This is Three Days Grace, alright.
Take it or leave it.
That’s not to say that this is a full stop to the old – there are many callbacks to the “Gontier Era” – honestly, I hear this album as a ‘best of’ compilation of their old and new sound.
‘Tell Me Why’ could’ve easily fit into ‘One-X’ or ‘Life Starts Now’.
‘Fallen Angel’ and ‘Nothing’s Fair’ would fit right in with ‘Transit of Venus’.
Sign of the Times became Human Race.
Never Too Late became Painkiller.
Time of Dying became Landmine.
Last to Know became The Real You.
Not only callbacks to old, but shadows to the later and new – but that’s for another time.
To summarize - a bulldozer of an album.
All killer, no filler.
Best part is, I’m witness to a new generation of fans that have started with this same record and hold to it as once I did with the old (One-X, for me). I wasn’t ranting at this review’s first paragraph – I was that one so-called fan – and its exactly this new generation that inspired me to pick this band up from where I left them off and find my love for them again.
This is the new and improved 3DG 2.0 and, when Gontier left the band – to form the equally brilliant Saint Asonia – he had 4 of their albums to his name.
Now, Matt is here – with 2 under his belt and, quite likely, a 3rd on the way.
This is The New Real…
Also, not tossing any shade…
‘Human’ works – but, personally, I can’t help but sometimes feel ‘The Real You’ would’ve suited the album a bit better as title.
Tell me your thoughts in the comments.
Rock hard, ride free and speak no evil.
Until the next time.