As of this very moment, some unbearable bands are dominating the Billboard rock charts. No names will be mentioned, but the brief respite of Disturbed’s solid return and Ghost’s haunting and doomed “Cirice” hardly make up for the dreck flooding modern rock radio. When every station is stuck on replaying Nirvana, Green Day, and The Offspring ad nauseum, something should be done.
All of this may have subtly played a part in one of the best of the early 2000’s rock juggernauts returning in 2016. 3 Doors Down has managed to survive the modern rock assault that is occurring in modern music by sheer perseverance and a knack for triumphant rock jams. The group has always had a hard edge without succumbing to gross clichés. They managed to pack all that in a gift that was rewarding in its own way- a change of sonic pace in a landscape covered with generic tunes along every turn.
In short, 3 Doors Down are the best of the bunch. The group is prepping for a return in 2016 with the release of what is shaping up to a riveting record. The album is led by “In the Dark,” and it erupts right out the gate with a guitar line that I wish would have just carried on. But, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. That masterfully played and addictive guitar line drops out for the verse, which gives plenty of time and room for frontman Brad Arnold to deliver his perfect encapsulation of gritty-voiced beauty that defines 2000’s rock- a sound that he helped birth.
Additional attention needs to be paid to the eccentric guitarwork that opens the bridge. It’s an absolute blast to listen to, and the waggling effects add that extra sass and grime to the track. Chris Henderson and Chet Roberts on rhythm and lead offer a well-balanced sound that knows when too much is too much. Like good foreplay, the two tease and hold back at the right times. Based on pure listening, they may be the backbone of 3 Doors Down thick yet somehow playful palette.
What makes “In the Dark” such an exceptional song is that it is fun. The comment sounds like a jab, but that is hardly the case. My issue with 3 Doors Down is that they rarely seemed to be having a whole lot of fun, especially during their political era where promoting the Army took precedence over rocking the fuck out. Of course, their self-titled album was fitted with some jams. But, the group seemed too somber for their own good. Here, they sound rejuvenated and excited once again. Lines, such as It sounds like an angel is calling my name, It might be the devil, but they all sound the same are delivered with a sassy punch. Arnold is seduced by the dark side of the woman’s charms, only to be attacked in the darkness. The play on words (a listener might mistake the lyrical hook for a night of sex, instead of doom) is subversive. What sounds like pure misery is delivered with charming aplomb. It harkens back to the bizarre atmosphere of “Kryptonite.” The admittance, I really don’t mind what happens now and then
As long as you’ll be my friend at the end” is delivered with excitable synergy. It’s dark and eerie, but also thrilling. It is perhaps why the song is such a classic, and remembered fondly as one of the best tracks of the era (though I think the band’s single, “Here Without You” is the best of the era).
“Us and the Night” is following the 2011 release of “Time of My Life.” That criminally underecognized gem included acrobatically paced guitars and a rock ballad that could easily rival the best of their early-2000’s chart-topping period. The album returns to 3 Doors Down signature blending of eerie atmospheres, tenacious guitars, and lyrics that provoke a ghostly tone. 3 Doors Down may be returning in a state of tedium for rock music, but they are masters at making dark songwriting matter.