@planetmosh reviews Human by .@threedaysgrace on .@RCARecords
Human is the fifth studio album from Canadian band Three Days Grace, released in the UK on April 27th. In some respects though it can be seen as a debut, as they relaunch themselves with a new vocalist. In some cases band members can come and go and be replaced without too many ripples but when the voice of the band changes it can cause tidal waves and having looked through the bands social media feeds it seems many fans don’t quite know what to make of this change. Matt Walst joins original members Barry Stock (guitar), Neil Sanderson (drums, piano, backing vocals) and his brother Brad Walst (bass), replacing Adam Gontier who left last year. Within the band it may not be seen as a momentous change, as Matt has been around the band since the beginning, even writing a couple of tracks for their debut album in 2003, but it seems some fans have decided it’s too big a change and have deserted them before even listening to Human. None of that in this review though, as a newcomer to the band I can only take this album at face value.
With this new beginning it seems fitting that the band have gone back to Gavin Brown, the producer of their first album to work with them on Human. It’s mixed by Chris Lord-Alge, owner of Mix LA Studios and Nick Raskulinecz, who recently worked with Black Star Riders on their new album The Killer Instinct. Writing is a collaborative endeavour for this group and Matt has joint credits on the whole album so by this point I’d say he’s very much a part of the entire process and not just a new voice. When asked about the album Neil Sanderson said, “we try not to write lyrics, we try to write conversations.” All of the songs on Human are very much in that vein. In place of confusing metaphors is a straightforward description of emotions that can’t be misunderstood. It’s to the point and so is the music that goes with it. Opening track Human Race begins with the line “I don’t belong here….goodbye,” so we know from the very beginning this is not going to be a happy go lucky, lighthearted listening experience. That said, it’s far from hard to listen to, as each track, while dealing with some difficult issues the band have had to deal with, is full of so many catchy choruses and hooks that you can’t help but listen with a smile. If the object was for this album to be a cathartic exercise then I’d say it’s a case of job done. The first two singles to be released from Human are Painkiller and I am Machine. Painkiller is about how everyone has a crutch they rely on, that addiction that you can’t let go. Quite originally, it’s written from the point of view of said crutch. I am Machine is about wishing you could feel something, even pain, because that’s what makes someone human. I guess we’ve all wished the opposite at some point, so this is an interesting reversal.
Like I said, I’m taking this album and the new vocalist at face value, and it seems to me he does a great job. I’m sure there will be some diehards who can’t see it, but Matt Walst’s voice really does suit these songs. Fallen Angel and So What are standout tracks but really the whole thing is very listenable. It’s also very radio-friendly and I can pick out at least half a dozen tracks which could easily make really popular singles. As a fifth album it shows a tightness and an understanding between the band, and as a debut for Walst I’d say he can be very happy with the excellent job he’s done.
Tell me Why
I Am Machine
Nothing’s Fair in Love and War
One Too Many
The End is not the Answer
The Real You