Three Days Grace continue their accessible alt-metal attack of blunt lyrics and crunching rhythms with their sophomore effort, One-X. Thematically based around dealing with the disconnect felt while Three Days Grace were on the road in support of their 2003 album, the music remains catchy despite its lyrical darkness. Not surprisingly, the songs mostly revolve around feelings of isolation, tumultuous relationships, and anguished loneliness -- but through all their misery and confusion, Three Days Grace ultimately embrace the difficulties as merely a part of being human ("I'd rather feel pain than nothing at all" from "Pain"). The band's simple and direct approach owns a certain charm that makes One-X an enjoyable listen, albeit hardly innovative. The bandmembers still have no desire to mask sentiments behind perverse metaphors; just as their 2003 smash single "I Hate Everything About You" addressed a problematic relationship in powerfully straight terms, so do tracks on One-X. For instance -- and just so there's no room for confusion -- "Let It Die" frankly states "I swear I never meant to let it die/I just don't care about you anymore." And the forthright "Riot" ("Let's start a riot!") is one of a few riled-up outsider anthems on hand. But, there are also a number of tracks present that find Three Days Grace adding a few interesting twists to their hard-hitting formula that not only show a gentler side to the guys, but also work out rather nicely. Calming things down a bit, fluid instrumentation and vocalist Adam Gontier's steady delivery make the ominous "Get Out Alive" one of their strongest (though softer) songs, while "Over and Over" employs impassioned strings for an exploration of, yes, dysfunctional relationships. "Pain" finds the band channeling its inner Soundgarden and "Animal I Have Become" has a slight singsongy chorus to complement the track's thick riffing. There is no reason that fans of the band shouldn't embrace this album as the satisfying listen that it is. Some further distinctive qualities could be useful in helping separate Three Days Grace more from their alt-metal peers, but One-X certainly plays as a proficient step in the right direction.
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Success came quickly to this Canadian quartet, which sold more than a million copies of their debut album and dominated rock radio airwaves for the better part of two years. To hear them tell it on this follow-up, that's both the good and bad news. Much of One-X is given over to self-examination -- even self-flagellation -- about life in the spotlight, with frontman Adam Gontier pouring plenty of angst into songs like the surprisingly raw-edged music-biz kiss-off "Animal I Have Become," which pits the singer's growl against insistently bulldozing riffs. While the band tone down the aggression a bit on "Pain," which is cleaved by choruses that all but demand listener sing-alongs, Gontier sticks with his writing-as-therapy motif, waxing alternately desperate and repentant as he sifts through the detritus of some pretty nasty mornings after. Fortunately -- for both the album's tone and the overall psychic state of the band -- there's some acknowledgement of a light at the end of the tunnel. "Never Too Late," which opens with guitarist Barry Stock gently strumming out a moody filigree, has an airiness about it that dovetails nicely with Gontier's understated delivery of a lyric that addresses attempts to gain solid footing on terra firma. That's echoed on the album-closing title track, on which Gontier belies the world-weary sound of his voice by vowing to step forward with conviction -- an ending that, while not exactly Hollywood perfect, is thoroughly satisfying.
All Music Guide - Corey Apar
Los Angeles Daily News
Anyone who appreciates alt-metal that refuses to dumb itself down will get a charge from "One-X."