First impressions. They are something that will either help you or haunt you for the rest of your life. Very rarely does life ever give you a chance to start from scratch and grant you a second shot at making another first impression. In music, some bands have done it with great success, while others flounder about by keeping the stigma of their former selves. Sometimes, from an outsider’s view, replacing a guitarist, bassist, keyboardist or drummer, will be an easy fix in the outcome of how a band sounds, however, when it comes to a vocalist, it is way more noticeable and a band will most likely lose the identity that it once had. It definitely brings a crossroads of sorts as some fans will abandon what they once loved, while new fans will emerge and discover a side to a band, or a member of a band, that they would never have thought about giving a chance to listen to before.
Three Days Grace, recently got to experience this polarizing reality as their founding vocalist, Adam Gontier, resigned from the band in 2013. As a way of rebounding from this devastating blow, Bassist Brad Walst’s brother and front-man of the band My Darkest Days, Matt Walst, stepped into the position which Gontier vacated. Since filling in and becoming an official member of the band, Three Days Grace recorded their first studio album, Human, with Walst at the helm. Human was that chance for Three Day’s Grace to make their second fist impression as arguably the band’s most important release to date.
The album Human starts off with the very airy and spacey third single ‘Human Race.’ This track kicks off and wastes little time introducing the audience to Walst’s vocals. Surprisingly, Walst’s vocals fit extremely well with the classic Three Days Grace sound. While admittedly, upon first hearing this song, I was quite opposed to the over use of the “Yeah, yeah” repetition in the song, however, I’ve let myself digest the album a little more and have grown to like the way the song is sung. The song’s meaning takes a cool spin on the term “Human Race.” Instead of talking about humans as whole, it looks at the competition in our instincts of always trying to one-up one another and just being completely fed up with it and wanting to walk away from it completely. We all need our outlets in life, and this song is a plea to find that outlet.
Next up on Human is the debut single from the new line up of Three Days Grace called ‘Painkiller.’ ‘Painkiller’ brings that heavier Three Days Grace sound that we’ve all grown to know and love. In some ways, humans use painkillers to help relieve the hurt they feel from every day life; running the human race, if you will. The meaning behind the song can be reflective of using music as a healthy outlet as a way for the listener to both get away and feel better from the every day beat down that life throws your way. Literally, the song is pleading for you to use the music as a painkiller which is nothing short of amazing to hear.
‘Fallen Angel’ is the next song on the album and it is easily one of the most powerful lyrically on the album for me. This ballad focuses on the premise of someone who has endured so much that they are a broken soul who needs help to go on. Again, acting as the painkiller, Matt is asking how he can help. This song’s lyrics are a stark reminder to help those who have battled depression or addiction and to be as supportive as you can be to them. An absolutely beautifully written piece that shows how compassion goes a long way.
Another one of my favorite songs on the album, ‘Landmine,’ shows up after ‘Fallen Angel’ with an extremely different feel from the song that comes before it. ‘Landmine’ is reminiscent of Three Days Grace’s songs ‘Riot’ and ‘The Good Life’ where they are an absolute blast to listen to, pardon the pun. A driving beat and energetic bassline and guitar riff to boot, ‘Landmine’ delivers a fast-paced song about letting go and blowing up in someone’s face at any given moment, yet Matt’s delivery is there pleading to not live like that anymore.
‘Tell Me Why’ is a ballad which explores how someone falls into a repetitive cycle of constantly losing a battle. It follows the feeling of helplessness when someone, or something, always puts you down and yet you cannot seem to overcome it. The song touches on being alone and stripped of everything you know. There are clear reflections in the song about how someone with anxiety or depression lives their lives day after day.
The second single from Human is next. ‘I Am Machine’ is another classic sounding Three Days Grace songs which talks about being so dehumanized that you literally feel nothing. ‘I Am Machine’ is a call to action to being so numb and machine-like yet hating feeling that way and wanting a way out. It also touches on how it’s okay having hurt and pain because that is part of what makes you human.
‘So What’ is another one of those catchy ‘Riot’ like songs that talks about feeling comfortable in your own skin and saying “so what” those who have a problem with it. This self-empowering ass kicker of a track keeps the energy flowing the entire track through. Definitely another highlight on this album.
‘Car Crash’ is a metaphorical song comparing someone to a wreck. To me, I interpreted the crash as representing the outcome of addiction. Despite all of the cautionary signs and counter measures, if you cannot stop yourself, the crash is eventually happening. This cleverly written song holds your attention from the slow beginning thorough to the rocking climax to the end.
‘Nothing’s Fair In Love And War’ reminds me a lot of ‘Without You’ from the Life Starts Now album. Lyrically, the song talks about acting first without thinking of the consequences and the backlash of those consequences. The catchy chorus and awesome riff in the bridge quickly gets stuck in your head.
‘One Too Many’ is a story about addiction. Whether it’s drugs, alcohol or other forms of consumption, this song talks about how when you’re addicted to something, you can never really have enough of it until it destroys you. This firecracker of a song starts off with a build up and it keeps that powerful and strong message the rest of the track through.
‘The End Is Not The Answer’ is another song about helping someone who really needs it. Lyrics about relating to the person that needs the help are both powerful and uplifting. Letting you know that you are really never alone in any situation, the lyrics and Matt’s delivery come through strong in this one. Very good message here.
‘The Real you’ is the last song on Human and it starts off with a piano with Matt singing about never giving up on someone. Another song about helping someone out, the lyrics are telling someone that it is okay to come for help, even if you don’t want it or think you need it. This beautifully written ballad about being there for someone else was a great way to close out the album. It was another great reminder that Three Days Grace is still there ready to be the painkiller for you.
Overall, Human was a surprising album that really resonated with me. I was quite impressed with how, despite having a new vocalist, Three Days Grace’s identity is still intact. Despite the familiar sound that Three Days Grace fans have learned to love, The band did take a few risks with their new album by featuring noticeable guitar solos and subtle sounds, such as the high-pitched detonation noise in ‘Landmine,’ that really enhance the outcome of the songs. With a lot to prove on this album, I feel like Three Days Grace have proven that they will be alive and well for many more years to come. Human is definitely an album worth checking out.