Album Review: 3 Doors Down’s ‘Us and the Night’
American heavy rock veterans 3 Doors Down have gone from multiplatinum records, Grammy nominations, and everyone singing along to their greatest hit Kryptonite, to becoming almost forgotten. They last released music way back in 2011 with album ‘Time of My Life’. But the internationally renowned rock outfit are back, this time sporting a new swagger and bold robust rifts with their sixth studio album ‘Us And The Night’.
“…the 5-piece have hit back with overall themes of resilience, hope, and a healthy dose of sexual prowess.”
The last few years haven’t been easy on the heavy rockers. In 2012 lead guitarist Matt Roberts left the band due to health issues and in 2013 bassist Todd Harrell was forced out after he was charged with vehicular homicide during a fatal car crash and sentenced to two years in prison. Rather than allowing the pain of these tragedies to devour the entire album, the 4-piece have hit back with overall themes of resilience, hope, and a healthy dose of sexual prowess. They’ve also attempted to experiment outside the lines of their trademark alternative rock with a combination of synths and electronic production, spicing up several tracks with fresh new vigour.
The 11-track rock-fest kicks off with The Broken, a track dominated by unyielding lines like “Stand up and take back your world today!”. The song’s catchy melody is backed by a punchy guitar rift, highlighted by a mix of synth sounds from electronic wails in the intro, to a light vibrato synth and razor buzzing in the verses and chorus. It’s a fist-pumping rock anthem impossible to ignore!
Second cab off the rank is the album’s latest single In The Dark, a rockified account of a femme fatale striptease. The guitar hook is impossible not to move to, while Arnold’s trademark gritty vocals are laced with provocation and singsong inflection. Following a scorching guitar solo the instrumentation falls back to light piano synth and barely restrained vocals before rising back and taking it home with the chorus.
“Inside of Me will unleash a new wave of motivation to anyone who is feeling like they’ve lost the will to continue on, whether it be uni assignment or a personal hardship.”
The dynamic falls back and vulnerability shows itself in the piano-dominated ballad Inside Of Me, a song about finding one’s true potential in the depths of the unknown. The power comes from the uplifting melody and is highlighted in places by simple harmonies and programmed strings. Arnold’s vocals aren’t as emotionally versatile as other rockers with similar timbres like Rob Thomas or Lifehouse, but there’s beauty in his confidence and strength when he sings, “There’s fate and there’s one chance/ to find out who I want to be/And I know it’s inside of me“. This song will unleash a new wave of motivation to anyone who is feeling like they’ve lost the will to continue on, whether it be uni assignment or a personal hardship.
Title song Us And The Night is the ultimate road trip anthem for the everyday champion. It’s all about enjoying the ride and living up to one’s full potential. The grinding texture of the bass, particularly in the verses, gives the song an extra pizazz, although without it there would be no distinguishing qualities separating it from several other rock songs on the album.
“Ending this way felt like ending a movie with “To Be Continued”. It shows the quintet are fighting out from the claws of adversity and back onto the charts.”
Final track Fell From The Moon is a sombre piano-based ballad about falling from grace and struggling to work back to the top. Arnold uses subtle breathy inflections to get his point across, while high-octave plinking piano in the chorus makes the vocal hook-line “I fell from the moon” equal parts devastating and hopeful. Ending this way felt like ending a movie with “To Be Continued”. It shows the quartet are fighting out from the claws of adversity and back onto the charts.
The rockers have proven they’re not afraid to experiment with fresh new sounds and exercise lyrical growth in their latest repertoire, but it seems these new explorations only extend to a certain point, as there were almost just as many generic rock songs weighing their progress down. But no matter what, just like previous 3 Doors Down albums, ‘Us and the Night’ is a guaranteed rock buffet of catchy tunes, insightful words, and a whole lotta thrills!
Read our interview with rhythm guitarist Chris Henderson HERE