Three Days Grace continue their accessible alt-metal attack of blunt lyrics and crunching rhythms with their sophomore effort, One-X. Thematically based around dealing with the disconnect felt while Three Days Grace were on the road in support of their 2003 album, the music remains catchy despite its lyrical darkness. Not surprisingly, the songs mostly revolve around feelings of isolation, tumultuous relationships, and anguished loneliness -- but through all their misery and confusion, Three Days Grace ultimately embrace the difficulties as merely a part of being human ("I'd rather feel pain than nothing at all" from "Pain"). The band's simple and direct approach owns a certain charm that makes One-X an enjoyable listen, albeit hardly innovative. The bandmembers still have no desire to mask sentiments behind perverse metaphors; just as their 2003 smash single "I Hate Everything About You" addressed a problematic relationship in powerfully straight terms, so do tracks on One-X. For instance -- and just so there's no room for confusion -- "Let It Die" frankly states "I swear I never meant to let it die/I just don't care about you anymore." And the forthright "Riot" ("Let's start a riot!") is one of a few riled-up outsider anthems on hand. But, there are also a number of tracks present that find Three Days Grace adding a few interesting twists to their hard-hitting formula that not only show a gentler side to the guys, but also work out rather nicely. Calming things down a bit, fluid instrumentation and vocalist Adam Gontier's steady delivery make the ominous "Get Out Alive" one of their strongest (though softer) songs, while "Over and Over" employs impassioned strings for an exploration of, yes, dysfunctional relationships. "Pain" finds the band channeling its inner Soundgarden and "Animal I Have Become" has a slight singsongy chorus to complement the track's thick riffing. There is no reason that fans of the band shouldn't embrace this album as the satisfying listen that it is. Some further distinctive qualities could be useful in helping separate Three Days Grace more from their alt-metal peers, but One-X certainly plays as a proficient step in the right direction. ~ Corey Apar, Rovi User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply.