We live in a calculated world. Everything that is done is than for some particular purpose, and 99% of every single action is influenced by a reason or a motivation. The music industries, and Hollywood, are prime examples of a premeditated success. An agent or a record company knows how to promote an artist or band, and what particular sound is currently trending in the mainstream market. Even bands that pride themselves on being underground or simply different, go beyond themselves to create go against the mainstream flow. It’s a calculated change.
3 Doors Down is a band that was never going to be anything but a success. They incorporate everything that mainstream rock is about, the simple riffs, the overuse of distortion, the clean and comfortable vocals, the safe and generally uncontroversial verses and most importantly the melodic and catchy choruses.
‘Away From the Sun’ is 3 Doors Down’s second release, and is generally considered their magnum opus. 3 Doors Down followed their country rock debut album, ‘The Better Life’, which contained a couple of entertaining tracks including ‘Loser’ and that Superman song, with an album that is focused more on ‘hard’ rock and straight forward compositions. The songs are consistently likeable, despite having a tendency to mend into each other (especially tracks 2 – 5), with Brad Arnold clearly being the center of attention with all of the songs centering on his vocals.
Variety is avoided whole heartedly here, with ‘Here without You’ being the only song to not consist of a heavily distorted onslaught of noise during the chorus. Some songs decide to use slower, calmer, intros (‘Changes’, ‘When I’m Gone’) and others just keep up the heaviness throughout (‘Sarah Yelling’, ‘Running out Of Days’). So the band sticks to what they can do well, and that proves to be a benefit and a disappointment.
With the follow up album, ‘Seventeen Days’, the band experiment quite a bit for a mainstream pop band and sadly the results were quite mixed with only a few worthwhile tracks (‘Landing in London’, ‘Father’s Son’), so in away ‘Away From the Sun’ shines due to its lack of ambition by just being constantly listenable, if hardly ever memorable. ‘Ticket to Heaven’, ‘The Road I’m On’ and ‘Away From the Sun’ are all good versions of the same song, and following each other their similarity is prominent. They all follow the formula of (intro) verses – Bridge – (heavy distortion) – chorus – Repeat, as do songs like ‘Changes’ (which has an extremely poor chorus), ‘Going Down in Flames’ (which has a splendid chorus) and ‘I Feel You’. Individually each one is enjoyable but together they can prove tiresome. ‘When I’m Gone’ has a short acoustic intro before blasting into normal territory, with a fast and melodic chorus and some loud, but cleaner than usual, riffs.
‘Here without You’ and to a lesser extent ‘Sarah Yelling’ are the only songs which are a tad different. The former is the defining 3 Doors Down song that everyone has heard, an uplifting song that became an anthem for many deployed troops and their worried families. Centering on the loneliness somebody feels when away from a love done, it’s a topic that most people can relate to and the use of a melancholy composition helps create an easy and touching atmosphere for the tracks. ‘Sarah Yelling’ is a surprisingly aggressive track about child abuse. Being by far the heaviest track the band has ever recorded, the aggressiveness of the lyrics are reflected in the instrumental, and despite the bluntness of the verses;
‘Mother, That man took my soul away
Father, How could you ever treat me this way
Brother, Don't ever let him do this again
This time it's over I'm gonna make it end
Now it's over, that mean old man is dead
Lyin on the ground, Bullet in his head’
The track still works very well simply because it delivers more of an emotional impact than the majority of the album.
'Away from the Sun' is not an album i find myself going back to often, despite being the bands best work (which doesn't say much for their other releases). A simple case of the individual parts being superior to the work as a whole.