Review

Melodic but hard-hitting Santa Clara, California-based post-grunge outfit Smile Empty Soul's fifth studio album finds the trio maturing into a solid amalgamation of Nirvana, Staind, and Breaking Benjamin. What sets 3's apart from previous outings is its confidence. Standout cuts like "Ugly" and "Carve" have definite hooks, and Smile Empty Soul aren't afraid to sink the barbs in and leave them there, but they're also not opposed to expanding their sonic palette, as is the case with the brooding and relentlessly heavy "Let Go" and the similarly paced single "Afterlife," the latter of which employs a pretty spectacular symphonic tsunami of guitars. ~ James Christopher Monger, Rovi

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