This review starts off with a mystery, a question that is deeply concerning within the dark corners and hidden depths of The RR, and that is how a band as impressive and creative as 3 has until now escaped our once thought vigilant ears. Thankfully the release of the band’s sixth album The Ghost You Gave Me has amended this oversight with a deeply penetrating and stunning collection of progressive rock/metal tracks that revel in enticing and engaging the ear and beyond with their kaleidoscope of melodies, intricacies, and sounds.
The New York based quartet has already caught the attention , well elsewhere, and established their dynamic credentials for making music that is expressive, inspired and restrained progressively, and melodic with bristling veins of intensity, making the biggest mark with their 2007 album The End Is Begun. The album was sandwiched between tours with Porcupine Tree in spring 2007 and with the Scorpions in 2008, followed by the Progressive Nation Tour with Between the Buried and Me, Opeth, and Dream Theater. With each show 3 left audiences, which at times were initially sceptical, baying for more something The Ghost You Gave Me released via Metal Blade Records will repeat with their fans ears. The album is one that as soon as it ends it is impossible to resist taking its journey repeatedly.
3’s sound is a mesmeric blend of alternative and progressive rock delivered through waves of expansive melodies and harmonies combined in soundscapes that are felt as well as heard. The Ghost You Gave Me is rife and alive with this inventive and unique mixture, every song never failing to find a connection with their beckoning and absorbing sounds. They invite and take the listener into their depths to bask in the waves of senses caressing sound. Within this well of calm and touching joy there are also steely and darker ribs of metal that often peep out or in others stride into full view adding to the satisfying and impressive variation the band have to their music.
The album starts on the brief but glorious acoustic melodic passion of ‘Sirenum Scopuli’ to bring in the glittering majesty of ‘React’. The song sweeps up the listener into its loving harmonious arms as it leaps eagerly and longingly into the ear. It is one of those tracks that know you love it before you do and has an instant ‘recognition’. By its end the addictive chorus that is just one step away from a sing-a-long moment has lifted feelings and lightened the day. It is a fine pop rock sound, just one aspect of the band’s writing that they can more than efficiently bring forth and a style later repeated with ‘Afterglow’. During these tracks the band reminds of bands like Sick Puppies with their addict making hooks and choruses but with a more involved construction to their journeys.
The voice of guitarist Joey Eppard is immense throughout the album bringing harmonies and soothing sounds equal to the music, his soft and absorbingly clean vocals spreading out within each song to raise the emotive feel from start to finish. Fellow guitarist Billy Riker alongside Eppard, unveil within the album thoughtful and unpredictable displays and ideas that never dip in to the expected or ordinary, nor do they go too far the other way and go down the slippery progressive road of over indulgence or cleverness without substance. Their play lies perfectly between simple and over worked becoming a perfect complement to the vocals with instinctive harmonies.
The bass of Daniel Grimsland and especially the tremendous drums from Chris Gartmann bring a strong power and from Gartmann often a beat and attack that is as hypnotic as it is controlled aggression. He is unrelenting without over powering the sounds around and makes a pulse to the album that registers deeper than the ear as in the excellent title track. In the highly charged ‘The Ghost You Gave Me’ Gartmann incessantly probes the ear with persuasive energy and dynamics whilst the rest of the band explore with equally animated majesty.
Each track is irresistible and hard not to mention in depth but with the title track two others take the album to even greater heights. The first ‘It’s Alive’ is a perfect creation from the union of muscular metal based riffs and soaring harmonies musically and vocally. The blend of Eppard’s and at times an added female voice is heaven sent and for that alone the song is staggering. The track plays its progressive hand in an At The Drive In type way but with more grace and poise and is the best track on the album. ‘Numbers’ completes the threesome of excessive quality, its riveting gentle pulse never relenting behind explosive riffs and driven guitars, another triumph to devour.
There have already been many candidates for album of the year and with The Ghost You Gave Me there is another extremely strong contender, the album is without doubt one of the year’s classics, and the relief 3 has come into view here a gift to be thankful for.