Wednesday, October 12, 2011

3 - The Ghost You Gave To Me (2011)

After a seemingly endless absence, the band with a number for a name returns with a new studio album. 3 has soaked in praise from all corners of the country, thanks to their critically acclaimed album, titled "The End Is Begun," and in part to their slot on the Progressive Nation Tour of 2008. But three years later, Joey Eppard and company have compiled a collection of songs that may take them to new places. "The Ghost You Gave To Me" sees the Woodstock, NY four piece with an edge that is sure to garner some serious attention.

The intro track, "Sirenum Scopuli," is vintage 3, taking the dulcet tones of clean guitars and pairing them with Eppard's often airy voice. It has a short but sweet effect, connecting directly into "React," a sure fire crowd pleaser. The alternating bursts of fast and slow, combined with a catchy melodic vocal hook, are the perfect way to get the ball rolling. Eppard's strength as a vocalist and frontman is equaled only by his prowess on the guitar strings, with fluttering flurries of acoustic notes floating through the air. The first single from the album follows, and "Sparrow" has a stomp that may catch you by surprise. The sizzle of cymbals and crushing guitar riffs that lead off give way to the soft crooning of the verse. But that aforementioned edge cuts through in the pre-chorus, a heavy strike that is a welcomed change from the normally progressive rock vibe. This is a realization of how impactful this band can be.

The vocal delivery that has become the band's signature returns on "High Times," a track that showcases the sheer power of Eppard's voice. he hits all the right notes, and all the right styles. His ability to cut back and forth from purely clean, to slightly raspy and gritty is enough to keep the more elitist members of the metal community happy. The rhythm section follows suit, with blasting fills and a head bobbing bass line keeping things tight. The rattling opening to "Numbers" reminds you that drummer Gartdrumm is alive and well behind the kit. The softly sung verses trick you, setting you up to be shaken, not stirred, in the chorus. A smoldering guitar solo takes you on a ride, and crashes you back in the middle of the booming riffs. The blasting outro is one that will shake you to your core, only to be saved by the beautifully sung "One With The Sun." The lyrical content has a dark playfulness, one of the band's best qualities. There is a soul to Eppard's voice, something lost far too often in the mind numbing progressive metal scene. he captures every ounce of emotion in each syllable, playing his tones off of the resonating guitar notes.

The title track begins with a pulsing drum beat, and machine gun snares. A weaving, winding guitar riff twists around you, all the while you are soothed with Eppard's vocals. From the ethreal "oooo's" and "ahhhh's" to the wild tremolo in his voice, he keeps your ears hooked. The opening riffs of "Pretty" lead into a downtempo verse, one that allows the bass to come through loud and clear. But the undeniable appeal of the chorus will be sure to get any crowd bouncing. The contrast of crunchy riffs and soothing vocals is what makes this band so accessible to so many. The guitars build in strength, initiating the head bobbing you may have resisted thus far. For fans of 'The End Is Begun," the track "Afterglow" is going to be a favorite. From the distorted guitars to the light tap of cymbals, you will find so many things to enjoy. The upbeat nature of the tune is infectious, with every layer folding together in a perfect harmony.

The clean guitar notes that dominate "It's Alive" will stick with you for days. Their immediate descent into something heavier is awe inspiring, with Eppard letting out a mighty scream over the top. It plays out like organized chaos, even through the solo portion, crashing cymbals capping off a decidedly heavy, stomping riff. The surprisingly long "Only Child" follows, and in true 3 style, commands every ounce of your attention throughout. There is so much going on at any one moment, whether it be a great bass line, a ridiculous fill, or the overall arch of the vocal melody. The track length allows the band to take a longer path from A to B, jutting off on tangents here and there. But the flow remains from one piece to the next, connected through each riff, and the haunting keyboard notes. The closing track, "The Barrier" brought to mind Beck's "Ramshackle," with the band taking a stripped down approach in the early stages. The track builds to a rolling boil, twisting and turning through solid guitar passages and vocals. It is a delicate end to an aggressive album.

Despite their past successes, 3 seem to still be relatively unknown, or at least as much as a major label band can be. The comparisons to Coheed and Cambria have been lobbed time and time again, whether they be fair or otherwise. But "The Ghost You Gave To Me" sees the band stepping out of the shadows, and into the spotlight in a way that they hadn't on their previous works. They have found a balance that could, and should, propel them into the collective consciousness of metal fans the world over. And with a slot on the Metal Sucksfest, they are sure to get some nods of approval along the way.


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