by Samuel Abels
On March 9, Three Days Grace released their sixth studio album, “Outsider,” to the masses for their respective listening pleasure.
Since 2013, Three Days Grace has been in possession of a new lead vocalist, Matt Walst, as the pre-established, rougher sound of Adam Gontier had departed the band around the same timeframe. Although it is his second album with them, Walst definitely brings his own signature sound to the project. What it does: it changes the landscape.
The album opens up with a song titled “Right Left Wrong,” which more or less qualifies for radio play and single material. It is nothing but something to catch the ears right off the bat.
The second track, titled “The Mountain,” is more significant in its presence, with Walst’s play-it-safe, Warped Tour-esque vocalization singing about how, “even if I feel like dying, I’ll keep climbing the mountain.” It’s an excellent lead single for a project, and serves as a shining beacon of hope for those who are struggling with life’s hurdles, or simply with the nuisances of self-doubt.
The following track, “I Am An Outsider” is semi-titular of the album itself, and revolves around the declaration that follows every teenager or young person in general at one time in their lives, that they’re an outsider, and that they don’t care about what the in-crowd is doing. Message-wise, it’s amazing, but sonically, it feels like an anthem crooned when these same teenagers might find themselves converging unto Warped Tour and their various acts. It’s Hot Topic fare at most.
The fifth track on this record actually is reminiscent of the earlier sound of Three Days Grace. It’s titled “Nothing To Lose But You,” and with the softer tone, the guitar strings and appropriately placed drums, this feels like a nod to classics such as “Never Too Late” and “Pain,” except with its own flavor added to it. Up next, it is the song “Me Against You,” which is a great track, as it is both rough and rebellious. So thematically, it honestly fits the “Outsider” album rather well.
After that point, the album devolves into awkwardness, and possibly even filler. “Love Me or Leave Me” poses the titular question, and amist underwhelming synthesizers and bored vocals, its only true feature is its ability to drone on and show an incredible understanding of repetition. “Strange Days,” coming in at the eighth track on the album, is decent enough, yet it doesn’t feel completely like a Three Days Grace creation. It feels like Nickelback, or Theory of Deadman found a throwaway song and just handed it off to Walst, and company, and allowed them to run with their dead creative juices.
The ninth track, “Villain I’m Not,” oddly is reminiscent of the 90s song “Wonderwall” (if it were a tad more heavy), and that in itself is rather curious. As for the final three tracks of this twelve track adventure, it never feels like it has been summed up, and by the time the final track “Abyss” rolls around, there’s somewhat of an emptiness present. There’s nothing at all special about this track or the aforementioned other two. It doesn’t ring as a fitting way to close an album about overcoming one’s demons and rebelling against the odds.
The point is, a project such as “Outsider” should leave the listener feeling as if you’ve coordinated the roughest, most intense, but totally worth it victory lap by the arrival of the final track. You shouldn’t have to leave it feeling disappointed, nor should a listener need to cherry pick points where your message is the strongest. There’s far too many Warped Tour-esque anthems, and a general removal of what at one time made the likes of Three Days Grace special and by extension, enjoyable.
2.5 out of 5 stars.