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After a two year gap since 'Revisions', an announcement at the end of 2009 of a deal with Roadrunner Records followed by a counter-announcement a short while later that they'd re-signed with Metal Blade, innovative and progressive alt-rockers 3 eventually return with a brand new studio album. And, by fuck, has the wait been worthwhile. Actually, this one effectively has 3's first new material for four years as 'Revisions' contained newly recorded versions of older tracks - some previously unreleased and rare, others from their first two albums. In short, 'The Ghost You Gave To Me' exceeds all my expectations, and my expectations were high, so that's indicative of the sonic awesomeness they've unleashed. Masterful songwriter Joey Eppard, along with his bandmates, guitarist Billy Riker, drummer Chris Gartmann and bassist Daniel Grimsland, have both refined and expanded on their already established innovative rock aesthetic with twelve tracks that are as accessible as they are progressive. Accessibility is not always a word one would associate with progressive music but 3 eschew generic prog trappings to strike a perfect balance (and I do actually mean flawless) between solid, catchy, exciting and fully engaging songwriting and alt-rock innovation. 3's prog tendencies have been utilised as more of an attitude towards making music than an actual paradigm for composing. And that's the way it should always be done! You'd be hard pushed to find a more genuinely progressive record than 'The Ghost You Gave To Me' in 2011. There are other instances this year, of course, Wolverine's 'Communication Lost' being one such example, but they are few and far between in terms of the high standard set here. Bursts of Eppard's innovative fretboard technique on acoustic guitar sits under Riker's wide array of playing styles and both musicians' distorted lead parts and chords colour 3's musical canvas with alt-rock heterogeneity that even incorporates metal elements in places - just take a listen to the repeated motif from the intro to 'It's Alive' or the minute and a half outro to 'Numbers' to name but two moments of the band at their most heavy. The tight bass/drums rhythm section of Grimsland and Gartmann provides the progressive foundations upon which songs flourish and develop into all kinds of unexpected ways as original melody after original melody will greet your ears. And then there's the icing on the cake - Eppard's unmistakable, unique vocals which excel at the high-end and add even more emotional depth to an already profoundly affective series of tunes. And, for those who like a point of comparison, who do they sound like? Press sheet blurb would have you believe Coheed & Cambria, Rush and Porcupine Tree. There are negligible similarities with said bands and apart from a scattering of other discernible influences throughout (there are even minor nods towards The Beatles and Pink Floyd), 3 sound like no-one else. In a metal and rock scene saturated with pastiche, plagiarism and lame, generic regurgitation, 3 stand head and shoulders above most. What's Roadrunner's loss is Metal Blade's (re)gain for this might just be the album that sees the band's popularity swell like never before. I've never understood why 3 aren't bigger than they are but 'The Ghost You Gave To Me' will surely be the album that sees Eppard and co. hit the big-time. They certainly fucking deserve it with this delicious gem of musical sublimity.
Metal Blade
Review by Mark Holmes
11th Oct 2011
1) Sirenum Scopuli; 2) React
3) Sparrow
4) High Times
5) Numbers
6) One With the Sun
7) The Ghost You Gave to Me
8) Pretty
9) Afterglow
10) It's Alive
11) Only Child
12) The Barrier
"In a metal and rock scene saturated with pastiche, plagiarism and lame, generic regurgitation, 3 stand head and shoulders above most."