'I don't care about the in-crowd, I'm better off on my own', exclaims Matt Walst on the title track of the new album by Three Days Grace. The multi-platinum Canadian rockers took a wilderness approach to create and record their sixth album. Retreating from the crazy modern world the band went to Neil Sanderson's [drums, percussion, keyboards, programming] 90-acre farm where they honed ideas around campfires and eventually recorded at Ontario’s remote Jukasa Studios. The isolation and calm of nature certainly proved to be a positive influence on the band's songwriting. Having the creative team on the same page has given the band the creative freedom and space to broaden their sound and writing.
As an album Outsider is crammed with memorable hooks, some mighty vocals and choruses that would knock out the Hulk with one smashing power chord. Many of the album's lyrical themes focus on the uphill struggle of life and the crazy world that we find ourselves in. It's more personal rather than political, but from the angst in the record that's represented in The Mountain and Right Left Wrong – and of course the title song - it's clear that having space to create the album allowed the catharsis to come through. The band have evidently shifted this emotional blockage and the tone of the album will certainly resonate with fans old and new who are looking for ways to vent their frustrations. The New Real is the most pointed song on the album, focusing on fatuous celebrity and the nebulous relationship between reality and fantasy. Walst's rhetorical question points fingers directly at society and when you look at yourself for the answer the song becomes a pretty depressing social commentary. The Abyss rounds off deeply expressive album that deals with many demons from depression to social isolation. Walst's final scream before the album's fuzzy white out is a chilling and very human way to finish.
Walst's second outing as the band's frontman is quietly confident but he still marks his territory. Sanderson has expanded the band's electronic pallet on this album too with tracks like Love Me or Leave Me opening up their sound and exposing a more introverted songwriting style.
Rock fans seeking an album that actually means something in today's world need look no further. Removing themselves from the day to day shit that they cover in the album has forced the band to look at the world very much as outsiders and they have surpassed themselves. The Outsider is a brilliant listen despite its painful themes but it's also very much an album for the modern world.
Groupie Rating 4/5