In the fall of 2002, southern rock band 3 Doors Down released their second album, Away from the Sun, which consisted of 11 tracks plus one hidden track and one bonus CD.
In just about every track on Away from the Sun you’re hit with a rush of emotions with lead singer Brad Arnold, as he belts out lyrics so passionate, they hold the capability of drawing tears to your eyes. Alongside singer Brad Arnold, the band also consisted of former and late guitarist Matt Roberts, guitarist Chris Henderson, Bassist Todd Harrell and the band’s then drummer, Josh Freese.
This album review is dedicated to the loving memory of one of 3 Doors Down’s biggest fans, my brother, Adam Federico (Nov. 7, 1984-Sept. 22, 2006).
When I’m Gone
The first track you’re introduced to on the album. Also, probably one of the most heard, most popular and most emotional tracks to date.
When I’m Gone’s popularity spread like wildfire when [3 Doors Down] performed it live on the U.S.S. George Washington in the Mediterranean in October, 2002, when the U.S. deployed soldiers overseas during the war in Afghanistan.
After the band did this performance, the opening to the song held so much meaning to it when you heard its opening on the radio.
The opening to the song is a soft one, with a guitar and bass duet, just before the lyrics break in. As Arnold’s soft southern vocals make their enterance, the guitar duet continues through, now accompanied with freese on percussion, still maintaining a slower pace.
Right as the song’s main verse kicks in, the pace is slammed with all instruments, and Arnold’s voice “thickens” as he belts out these powerful lyrics:
Hold me when I’m here,
Right me when I’m wrong,
Hold me when I’m scared
And love me when I’m gone!
When the song’s climax hits, you can hear Roberts completely shredding his guitar, still accompanied by Harrell’s bass.
Away from the Sun
A much softer song from that of When I’m Gone, Away from the Sun opens with gentle guitar notes (of course not without the company of bass). The soft introductions sets the tone for the song.
This track proves Arnold’s higher, softer vocal capabilities—and they’re absolutely beautiful. Every time I’ve heard this song, it happened to be early in the morning and so, this song always brings me back to those serene moments just as the sun is rising, enjoying the feeling of complete contentment.
Poetic, I know.
The Road I’m On
The track opens with the album’s apparent signature guitar riff, sounding similar to the opening riffs in When I’m Gone and Away from the Sun, yet still introduces subtle differences. A little repetitive, but still enjoyable, in my book.
The lyrics are delicate, seeming to relate to people who feel as if they’ve lost their way—something all of us face at some point in our lives (sometimes more than once). It’s a great song that speaks out to people who may feel alone during this point in their lives, helping them realize that they are, in fact, not alone.
Ticket to Heaven
The opening to this one starts much faster than the first three tracks. While the riffs do seem significantly different from the first three songs, you can still hear just a touch of that signature riffing I’ve been telling you about. A good call on the band to change things up a bit.
Arnold’s vocals are hardly belted in this track, rather, he sounds like he’s almost talking. It can get a little boring, definitely not their best track on the album.
Running Out of Days
I really enjoy the intro to Running Out of Days because it sounds like some good ol’ rock’n’roll with immediate drums, percussion and some stellar riffing right as the song comes on.
The cool thing I admire most about this one is just when you think you’re going to continue having your socks rocked off, the pace changes and relaxes to a much softer ambience just as Arnold comes in with the lyrics—it’s odd at first, but extremely likeable.
Arnold’s voice is mellow here, per usual, showing off his delicate semi-high points in the middle of the words, “I’ve got no time to move ahead.”
As the main verse comes in, that rock’n’roll sound comes right back and Arnold’s vocals lift, pairing well with the instruments accompanying him. It’s a lot of bouncing up and down with the pace with this song, but I enjoy it.
Here Without You
We are taken right back to the subtle, soft ambient song opening with Here Without You—and once again, we are reintroduced to Away from the Sun album’s signature opening riffs.
Here Without You is a tribute to those suffering from a broken heart. While there is very little deciphering needed for the lyrics to this song, it is easy to relate this song to either a breakup with a lover, or a loss of a lover—the song sings to both of these situations.
I’m here without you baby,
But you’re still on my lonely mind,
I think about you baby,
And I dream about you all time…
I Feel You
3 Doors Down changes things up a bit yet again, trailing away from their now well-known intros, trying something a little different from the rest of their tracks on the album. The opening riffs are lower, blending in with the bass, using deeper tones.
The pace to I Feel You does seem to relate a little with some of the rest of the songs on the album, going from a mellow pace, increasing when Arnold breaks into the chorus.
The opening semi-high riffs and deep beating drums and percussion play out as a sweet intro to this track. Just before Arnold begins to sing, the riffing continues and the drums settle back down and the Arnold’s voice makes its way in.
The opening lyrics are somewhat calm, however, they aren’t as mellow as Away from the Sun or Here Without You.
The song’s climax had the potential to be one of their best, however, it’s far too short to be anything great, sadly.
For some reason the intro to Change really reminds me of the intro to Aerosmith’s Dream On. So much, that I even had to play the two songs simultaneously and let me tell you—the sound was great for a good few seconds. The intros differ in length, but definitely hold similarities which gets me to give the thumbs up right away for Change.
As the lyrics enter into the song, Roberts’ riffs follow Arnold’s vocals, just as if he were “singing” along with Arnold with his guitar. The bass and percussion support Arnold’s and Roberts’ vocals and guitar riffs perfectly.
As far as the lyrics go, they make clear to speak out to anyone experiencing changes in their lives, touching on the battles we sometimes undergo when going through these sometimes weird transitions throughout our lives.
No wonder this song spoke out to me so much when I was an adolescent…
Going Down in Flames
I know I like using the phrase “slapped in the face” a lot when writing these reviews, but I mean it almost literally when I use it. Going Down in Flames slaps you hard in the face (don’t worry, no actual [physical] harm comes from this album) with drums and percussion first, and then the guitar and bass immediately follow before Arnold sings the words, “Don’t tell me what to think, because I don’t care this time!” in the opening verse.
For the most part, this song maintains its pace throughout its duration, only slowing between small breaks—and during the climax—but then picking right back up to that pace you were slammed with in the beginning.
Side note: Have you ever watched the movie Titan A.E? It’s an animated film that came out in 2000 (if you don’t know about it, look it up). During the first few minutes of the movie, there’s a scene when Cale, the main character, is floating around outer space and the song playing is called Cosmic Castaway by Electrasy—Going Down in Flames feels like it would have been a great alternative to this scene of this movie (too bad it came out just a couple of years too late).
The opening riffs to this one are perfect for a song that was originally meant to be the last song to close Away from the Sun.
In Sarah Yellin’, 3 Doors Down play their take on metal and it’s pretty badass. To top it off, the lyrics seem to talk about a woman who has freed herself from an abusive relationship by, well, putting a bullet to the head of her lover.
Because you can’t get any more metal than that (at least for 3 Doors Down).
This Time (Bonus Track)
The official closing track to Away from the Sun. Starts out slow and a bit eerie (but beautiful) before Arnold’s voice comes in. Toward the middle of the song, the guitar riffs begin to sound distorted, and there’s even an echo of some sort deep in the background, slightly hiding behind the rest of the instruments and Arnold’s vocals.
For those of you who are Muse fans, this song is right up your ally. As you already know, the Muse loves to play around with sound manipulations and distortions in their music—and that’s what 3 Doors Down did with this track.
This Time is more on the slower side, however, has just enough energy to keep you drawn into the song.
Yet another track that suits well as the official closing song to the album.