Last June, the world (or at least, those with the proper equipment) witnessed the transit of the planet Venus as its tiny shadow passed in front of the sun—a spectacle we won’t see again for at least two centuries. Alternative rockers Three Days Grace took this opportunity to announce the title of their new album, Transit Of Venus. The title reflected their stated purpose to create a musical rarity of sorts, to explore new ground with their sound without alienating their fan base.
The band have succeeded fully in their quest. Transit Of Venus shows us a completely different side of Three Days Grace, and yet it’s still obvious for fans just who they are listening to.
The opening track “Sign Of the Times” brings this out perfectly with an airy, ethereal introduction over which Adam Gontier almost whisper-sings, “This is a sign of the times / Another mountain to climb / The sun burns as hot as the flame in the devil’s eyes”—completely out of character, making us wonder exactly what we’re listening to—and then a minute and fifteen seconds in, WHAM! Here come the signature crunchy guitars and strained, semi-screamed vocals. Yup—it’s Three Days Grace.
In my opinion, the band has really done a great job of expanding their creative reach sonically while retaining the best parts of who they are. What’s new? Specifically, the creation of a more atmposheric tone in spots, along with the introduction of more electronic elements, both accomplished in part by the use of heavier synths. What’s the same? Fist-pumping anthems, singable/shoutable/chantable hooks, overall angst, and plenty of energy when it’s called for.
Now, as with most experiments, there are some missteps, as well. Most notably, this is a band that should leave Michael Jackson the heck alone. “Give In To Me” is only a slight tweak of the original (it’s even in the same key and has the same guitar riff), and really doesn’t do justice to either the song or the band. In fact, this song actually initiates a static lull in the midsection of the album where the songs are less impactful overall than the rest of the record.
One other thing to think about regarding the transit of Venus (the planetary movement, not the album): it only comes once in a lifetime. If you missed it, you won’t get another chance to see it (unless, of course you manage to live another two and a half centuries). This raises speculation that this directional shift for Three Days Grace may be a temporary one, that we may never see this side of them again. Of course, time will be the tell on that one. In the meantime, the band have given us a breath of fresh air with Transit Of Venus, a spectacle for the ears, as it were—even if it’s only an anomaly.
Of course, there’s one thing we do have with this record: unlike the actual transit of Venus, we can play this again and again. And fans will no doubt do so.