Three Days Grace – Explosions
Released: 6 May 2022
Brad Walst – bass, backing vocals
Neil Sanderson – drums, backing vocals and keyboards
Barry Stock – lead guitar
Matt Walst – lead vocals, rhythm guitar
The last time Three Days Grace released a full-length album was in 2018 with Outsider. The LP was the Canadian rockers’ second record with vocalist Matt Walst after long-time frontman Adam Gontier left the band in 2013. With 7.2 Million Facebook likes, it’s no secret that Three Days Grace have a highly dedicated fanbase, ever since their discovery in the noughties with timeless records including their debut self-titled record and One-X. Originating in Ontario, the band reinvented their sound vocally with Walst on Human and Outsider whilst retaining their roots, and they seem to have found comfort in their matured sound in 2022, with brand new album Explosions.
Whilst it’s exciting to have their seventh studio album upon us, the uncertainty of how it will sound might be a bit anxiety-provoking for the extensive 3DG fanbase. With an alternative band that’s been on the scene for a very long time, there’s been numerous eras, with different soundscapes and emphases. Some live for the heavier and grungier side of this unique outfit, whilst others lean on their more chemically altering rock ballad side that’s swung them onto the sonic side of peers like Breaking Benjamin over the years (evidenced by joint venture touring over the years).
So, where does Explosions sit on the sonic pendulum? Well it’s a bit complicated. Three Days Grace have successfully (in my opinion) achieve a hybrid of the two sides, with the disclaimer of some pragmatic reality in comparing their 2022 release to their sophomore One-X from 2006, as more than fifteen years have passed in between. What I’m getting at is, the raw angst felt and related in their early days may be tough to match for men in their forties, not to mention the hunger for a matured sound and exploratory sounds.
Let’s take a dive in and check it out. The forthcoming LP kicks off with ‘So Called Life‘, the band’s lead-single upon announcing Explosions. It’s one of the heavier tracks on the record, and the nostalgia is injected immediately, particularly instrumentally. Walst delivers that raw side-mouth opening vocal delivery until the bridge kicks in where he really tests out the pipes, as the rest of the band dial it up. The track is mixed just like Three Days Grace should be, with so many nuanced signature sounds heard at once, and it hits just right.
‘I Am The Weapon‘ sustains the electricity and is a very smooth segue. With a slightly higher pitched natural voice to his predecessor Gontier, Walst continues to adapts to the raspy vocal effort that defines this band. He embraces the heavier sections and whilst I wouldn’t use words like ‘gutturals’ or ‘uncleans’ readily in this piece (as deathcore is usually my forte), I’d certainly delineate Walst’s vocal delivery into distinctly separate sounds – one being the raspier/dirtier rock sound, and the other channelling that alternative stadium harmonic rock voice. He delivers a fair balance on this track, but there’s an energy that feels like the album might just be warming up.
This is where ‘Neurotic‘ comes in – their second single. It hits with a BANG and mixer (and drums; keyboards) Neil Sanderson delivers the [One] X-factor immediately with some of 3DG’s electro-infuser kickstarters. It has that recipe where it eases in slowly both instrumentally and vocally, but you can just feel the impending uplift, and boy does Walst deliver it with the G-forced chorus. The screeching guitars ensue with further programming, that enhances that spark of adrenaline. The track is super catchy, and whilst a steady tempo exists, it delivers that feel-good stadium rock energy that’s hard to dislike. Canadian singer/songwriter and Rockstar Supernova winner Lukas Rossi joins the boys for a bit at the end and gives the track that little extra oomph before it suddenly ceases.
The final song you’ve heard already is what comes up next, and this is where Three Days Grace change gears to that second aforementioned style. ‘Lifetime‘ is an emotional ballad, with an accompanying music video that was recorded in Kentucky at Mayfield High School, recently impacted by a devastating tornado. The three-minute single dials the tempo right down, particularly compared to the preceding two tracks. Walst truly gets an opportunity here to showcase not only his incredible vocal capabilities, holding superb notes and lining them up seamlessly with the rest of the band, but he matches the defining standard of tracks like this, set by Gontier across their back catalogue.
The second third of the record includes tracks like ‘A Scar Is Born‘, ‘Souvenirs‘ and ‘No Tomorrow‘ that all veer towards deep-cuts where Three Days Grace explore their romantic/more timid side, and whilst they capture the essence of their ballad-style, each song captures their bouncy crescendos that bring an element of fire. ‘Souvenirs‘ in particular contains those dirty radio-style vocal mixes that give you shivers ahead of a clean
breakdown thunderous bridge. This leads to what feels like a section closer called ‘Redemption‘ which puts Walst front and centre as he continues to vary his singing delivery.
Ok, so the third and final section of this record is where things pick back up again. ‘Heart Of A Champion‘ brings the ruckus like ‘So Called Life‘ did, and it’ll take you back to the early days of this band with its anthemic nature. You can feel the immense heaviness in the guitar tuning immediately, and it feels like that emo-comfort we know and love. In terms of track-structuring, it feels like some careful planning, as Three Days Grace appear to have wanted to showcase their slower-rock style in a bundle and then juxtapose that with their fist-pumping switch.
‘Chain of Abuse‘ rides the same wave and delivers power in transition, clarity (both vocally and instrumentally) and that bloody X-factor, an approach the band consistently takes that possesses your emotions and continually captivates you to the lyrics and its subsequent delivery. Alongside ‘Heart Of A Champion‘, these two tracks are so powerful back-to-back and work so well in unison, anecdotal of Three Days Grace remaining timelessly relevant in a forever accelerating world of evolving music and a genre-redefining environment.
The Canadians take us into the back-end of Explosions with a raised pulse and mixed expectations of how things are going to wind up. ‘Someone To Talk To‘ is a familiarly depressive feat that includes a guest spot from Finnish band Apocalyptica. The recipe is similar to the protein of this album, with a slower and emotive edge, but with an added instrumental spice. Lasting less than three-minutes, the track maintains its emotion with Apocalyptica bringing a newly felt raw symphonic edge.
This stupendous record finishes with title-track ‘Explosions‘, with what feels like the ultimate hybrid of what we’ve already heard so far – but in a way that feels like it all come together. With acoustic tones, Walst brings in the harmonics, somewhere in between his raw and clean dichotomy, and you can feel his urge to burst, which he rapidly does with some backing vocals as the amps kick in. “One more trip around the sun” is the resounding lyric that sucks you into their philosophical ontology in the track, which once again eclipses you with 3DG’s X-factor bridge that defines them. They know how to continually exhibit the same physiological response time and time again.
Explosions is ultimately the album you might have pleasantly expected. Whilst some may argue it’s ‘safe’, it also continues to deliver new variations of their signature style, to a fanbase that’s literally in the millions, and always craving new material. With Walst having really firmly cemented himself in Three Days Grace, these growing older gents have redefined how this outfit sounds in 2022, whilst retaining some really special components that they could have easily and regrettably discarded.
Three Days Grace – Explosions tracklisting
1. So Called Life
2. I Am The Weapon
3. Neurotic feat. Lukas Rossi
5. A Scar Is Born
7. No Tomorrow
9. Heart Of A Champion
10. Chain of Abuse
11. Someone To Talk To feat. Apocalyptica
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