Of all alternative hard rock/alternative metal bands, I’d have to say without any doubt that Three Days Grace is my favourite. I’ve reviewed Three Days Grace‘s past two albums, so I’ve already mentioned how big of a fan I am of them (you can read my Transit of Venus review here and my Human review here) and I won’t get in to long details here. I will mention how somewhat devastated I was when Adam Gontier announced his departure from the band, partially because of the way it went about. From what I gather he claimed it was due to health issues, but these health issues he spoke of were along the lines of stress and displeasure from still being in the band. Anyway I, as well as many other fans that I know personally, waited very patiently to see what he would do next, and we waited almost three years to get the surprise that is his new supergroup Saint Asonia.
Announced all in a sudden earlier this summer, Saint Asonia is completed with Staind guitarist Mike Mushok, former Finger Eleven drummer Rich Beddoe and bassist Corey Lowery who I’m unfamiliar with. Their self-titled debut album didn’t take long to come out after the announcement of their existence. I don’t know if people flocked to get this album, but I sure did.
Prior to the album’s release, Saint Asonia released about four songs all at different times to give us a taste of what was coming, starting with opening track Better Place, then eventually Blow Me Wide Open, Let Me Live My Life and Fairy Tale were all released prior to the full album. I don’t commonly listen to songs before the full album is released, simply because I want to keep the surprise, but I just had to be sure that this project wasn’t going to be half assed or something worse. The first three of those songs, while I enjoyed them right away, only grew on me the more I listened to them and by the time the album came out I couldn’t help but love the melodic power, especially on Better Place and Blow Me Wide Open. Fairy Tale, however, had me hooked from the moment I heard its chorus. While I was already convinced that Saint Asonia would be an album worth getting, it’s this last song released prior to the album’s release that convinced me that this would not be a good album, but a great album.
Of course it wouldn’t be an Adam Gontier fronted band without a few slower songs, be it slow and dark tracks, or soft and lighthearted yet slightly broken tracks, because God knows Three Days Grace has some fantastic ones. Saint Asonia has a few. Starting with Even Though I Say, which is what I’d have expected from the band with its slow and heavy hearted sound which keeps its hard rock backbone. Trying to Catch Up With the World doesn’t sound like something I’d have expected, as it’s mostly acoustic and has some classic folk influences, but it still has that darkness that keeps it in line. It’s the tracks Waste My Time and closing track Leaving Minnesota that are pleasant surprises. The former of the two is nothing short of a love song which I think is more honest than anything Adam has ever sung. Think Lost In You but softer. The closing track is more of a standard rock song. It sounds soft (for both Three Days Grace and Staind) because it’s surrounded by such hard rock songs, but should a band like, I don’t know, (early) Foo Fighters have recorded this, it would be a pretty standard rock song.
As for the rest of the heavy rocking songs on Saint Asonia, none gets better than my personal favourite track Dying Slowly. Sure King of Nothing‘s relentlessly heavy sound is badassery at its best and Happy Tragedy has it’s great moments and is the song that perhaps best reminds me of Three Days Grace but it’s Dying Slowly that completely stands out above the pack. When Adam Gontier sings in this song, he sings with the most passion I’ve heard since the Life Starts Now album.
I guess I never really noticed until now how Three Days Grace and Staind are kind of similar. Staind has a bit more of an organic sound which Mike Mushok brings into Saint Asonia while Adam Gontier brings the vocal superiority and strong melodic sensibility. I shouldn’t be surprised that it works so well, and best of all, Saint Asonia genuinely sounds like its own band. While they’re sticking with a genre they seem most familiar with, I don’t feel Adam or Mike are trying to make the same music that they’ve made with Three Days Grace or Staind, and with rejuvenated spirits. There is obvious passion here that Transit of Venus lacked, making it seem as though Adam is the happiest he’s been in years. With the bare minimum of negative aspects that Saint Asonia has, I think I’ve found one of my favourite albums to be released this year.
Thanks for reading!
“Better Place” – The message being sung here is all too obvious, and the title alone should say it all. The music really does do the talking though and it introduces Saint Asonia as a band and as an album in such fine fashion.
9 (Out of 10)
|2.||“Blow Me Wide Open”||3:44|
|3.||“Let Me Live My Life”||3:11|
|4.||“Even Though I Say”||4:08|
|6.||“King of Nothing”||3:34|
|7.||“Waste My Time”||3:14|
|9.||“Trying To Catch Up With the World”||4:29|