Away From The Sun

3 Doors Down

Universal Records, 2002

REVIEW BY: Benjamin Ray


The Better Life established 3 Doors Down as huge rock stars in 2000, spinning off four singles that got frequent rock radio airplay (and some Top 40 airplay, too, in the case of "Kryptonite"). The band was post-grunge rock to the core, louder than Matchbox 20, happier than Korn, less smug and self-important than Creed, more melodic than Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, and Saliva, but in firmly the same musical vein as all of those bands (and less popular soundalike bands of the time).

The problem with the debut is that the songs tended to sound alike after a while, a fate that befalls Away From The Sun as well. Other than a handful of strings added here and there, these songs not only could have been on the debut, but if pressed, one would strain to both tell them apart and remember them when they're done. They aren't poorly written – in fact, four of the songs are quite good – yet it's the same approach of roaring power chord riffs and rock vocals, repeated for 12 songs.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But because this band isn't angry, it's a decent album. The solid chorus hook of "When I'm Gone" made that song a hit, followed closely by the radio-ready ballad "Here Without You," both of which made this a multi-platinum record. Other highlights include the arresting guitar work of "Running Out Of Days," the chords of "Change It" that highlight a melancholy striving as an undercurrent, and the propulsive "Going Down In Flames," which would have been a good choice as third single ("Running Out Of Days" is better, but less accessible to a mass audience looking for background music at work).

"Sarah Yellin'" is a late-album highlight of note, packing a tale of family abuse and revenge into a piledriving three minute rock burst, shoving depth, the ability to paint a picture and killer riffs into one creative piece of work unlike anything else on the album. It's similar in spirit to Nickelback's "Never Again," that band's best song and one that tackles darker themes with very good modern rock. Oddly, it's listed as the last track on the album, but "This Time" is actually the last song, though you needn't bother with it.

When it's all over, you're left with kind of an empty feeling, like eating Chinese food and then being hungry an hour later. At least half the album is generic, and even the best songs here can't make it a classic. Still, as far as modern rock went in the early 2000s this was probably the best the mainstream had to offer, several notches below Pearl Jam's Riot Act, the Chili Peppers' By The Way, and Queens of the Stone Age's Songs For The Deaf but better than the Audioslave, Coldplay, Filter, and Korn records of 2002. It's not an album deserving of its multi-platinum status, but it's fine for what it is.

Rating: C

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