Three Days Grace - "Life Starts Now" review
I am hardly someone who could be called a prognosticator of future trends. That said, I suspect that the legacy of Three Days Grace is going to be very, very fleeting.
Throughout the history of rock and roll and heavy metal, there have always been bands that were auxiliary to the main theme of genre development. The side bands, if you will, may experience the highs of great success, but inevitably those bands get lost to the sands of time, remembered with reverence by a select few. Happens every time. Never was this more prevalent than during the grunge era, which left behind Days of the New, Candlebox, and Seven Marry Three. All three of those bands had headline tours, moved a lot of merchandise, and could lay claim to chart-climbing success. Today, all three are an afterthought, a shadowed memory of a bygone era.
If bands like Linkin Park, Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman are to be remembered as the trope for this period of mainstream rock/metal (*shudder*) then Three Days Grace will be the proverbial Days of the New.
That’s a bold statement given that Three Days Grace has a platinum album to their name, and it stands to reason that their new effort, “Life Starts Now” will sell remarkably well. Trouble is, there is nothing new on this album. Nothing. To make a lasting impact, a band has to grow, change, and adapt their sound. There is not much on “Life Starts Now” that I can specifically trace to the style of Three Days Grace. Rather, it is a homogenized blend of different other bands. Whether it’s Theory of a Deadman’s playground style in “The Good Life,” or the stolen echo of “Black Hole Sun” during “Goin’ Down,” every piece of the album feels like a half-hearted version of something I’ve heard before. To top that off, what’s left is run through a filter of Three Doors Down-esque melancholy.
If the band cannot adapt, then their fate is that their fans, and perhaps all of alt-metal, will outgrow them. Even the best moments of "Life Starts Now" such as the biting riff of "Better Days" or "Break" are mitigated by going through the motions of shallow emotional discontent. It comes as no surprise that "Good Life," perhaps the album's best single offering, sounds nearly identical to their 2006 hit "Riot."
It's hard to totally write off "Life Starts Now" when I'm readily aware of the fact that Three Days Grace has sold over two million albums, and seem to have come upon a formula that works for them. Also, it seems that no matter the era of rock, there will always be space for this kind of album that follows genre convention while being absolutely content to not push the envelope even an inch. So in that regard, the band is a smashing success. If you're intent on listening to this brand of alt-metal though, you're probably better off with Sick Puppies, or that Saliva album you bought five years ago.
Still, if Three Days Grace is insistent on going through the motions of producing the same album time and time again, their star will fall quickly. At this rate, they could be one of those bands that records an album fourteen years from now, and you'll be shocked to hear their name again. But what do I know? Three Days Grace has two more platinum albums to their name than I do...for now.
(Side note: When the chorus of “The Good Life” breaks out, tell me you don’t think of “Wouldn’t it be Loverly?” from “My Fair Lady.” Don’t lie, you know it popped in your head.)