Transit of Venus: Experimental project yields mixed results

November 30, 2012

Three Days Grace

Two decades after their inception, Canadian rock-band Three Days Grace has released their fourth studio album, Transit of Venus (though it seems like only yesterday we were all pounding our heads to “I Hate Everything about You”). The disc comes three years after Life Starts Now, the group’s third album .

Aptly named after the celestial phenomenon, Transit of Venus attempts to expand the band’s musical boundaries. The transit of Venus is an astrological event that occurs every 243 years, wherein Venus passes between the Sun and Earth, creating a black blight on the Sun’s surface. Attempting to channel this idea of transcendence, Transit of Venus comes in the form of a stunning CD jacket and mildly experimental tunes.

The 13-track set opens with the atmospheric song “Sign of the Times”, which has over a minute of harmonies, guitar, and percussion before a hard-hitting chorus rips through the calm, reminding listeners what Three Days Grace quintessentially is. But it eventually reverts into mournful verses that lament on the passage of time. “Sign of the Times” leaves off on a soaring note, leading into one of the best songs on the album – “Chalk Outline”.

The tune puts extra emphasis on lead singer Adam Gontier’s raspy voice, highlighting it more than ever before – a nice divergence from former albums. The driving guitar pushes this song into an accelerated pace, making it seem a little too short despite being extremely catchy and grimly compelling.

The only song that is truly formula-breaking is the album closing “Unbreakable Heart”, which showcases asymmetrical melodies and extremely varied tempos. The beautiful mix of hard and soft makes it hard to define the song, but that in itself is what makes it thrilling. Gontier’s voice makes the song truly memorable with his heart-filled vocals.

Three Days Grace ultimately digresses from their old sound, but they could have pushed even further. The combination of electronic, synthesized sounds and guitar is a nice touch, but they constantly revert to the formula of experimental verses followed by hard-hitting choruses. Conversely, Adam does genuinely attempt to diversify his vocal dimensions, adding some colour to each song.

The album’s jacket may have discarded all vestiges of the band being an alternative rock outfit, but the content has mostly stayed the same. There are wonderful experimental moments, but there is no overall breakthrough, despite the pretty packaging.

With Transit of Venus, Three Days Grace fails to wholly transcend, instead revealing themselves to be stuck in transition.