Special editions of albums originally released not long before are always a specious proposition. In many cases, the bonus tracks and/or inclusion of a DVD are probably not worth it for all but the most dedicated fans. However, considering that the original version of THREE's "The End is Begun" was never reviewed here ("Wake Pig" was though), then it is a good time to review it. Besides, after basically ignoring the band for no conscious reason until this special edition arrived, I now find myself recognizing what all the fuss over THREE is about. The accolades showered upon this band are well deserved. THREE is all about outstanding progressive rock with an incredible pop sensibility and "The End is Begun" is a terrific album.
Before we get into the "special" part of this special edition, let's focus on the main disc. Much is made of the band's eclectic blend of acoustic and electric sounds, poly-rhythms, and accomplished arrangements, as well as Joey Eppard's amazing voice, one that is endearingly different and infectious. But "The End is Begun" is not about marathon compositions that showcase each member's prodigious talent (even though the talent is in fact prodigious) nor is it about shoe gazing, meditative arrangements made for the elitist fan or the presumptuous artist. It is about wonderful songs that will stand the test of time.
Granted, there is room of the ethereal, the light, the breezy, and the expansive. Those elements do in fact add to the album's allure. A '70s prog vibe is omnipresent as well. But there isn't a part played on "The End is Begun" that is not done in service to the song. And those songs are so damn addictive. A cut like "All That Remains" (and several others for that matter) are bred from the kind of pop excellence first introduced to the world by THE BEATLES. It is not heavy in a "metal" sense, but heavy in a way that it emanates from the soul and overtakes the listener. That's not to say that the material doesn't have kick either, as songs such as the title track are electric, muscular, and groovy. There is just something about the way band takes what is essentially a catchy-as-hell rock song like "Live Entertainment" and turns it into something so uplifting and so true to the integrity of rock music. The most important thing to take away from this review is that the songs of "The End is Begun" are incredibly well written and catchy beyond belief.
Now for the "special" part. You get a cover of PINK FLOYD's "See Emily Play" (originally released in 1967), which sounds just fine and fits right in with the band's aesthetic. The bonus DVD consists of live tracks taken from a performance on April 28, 2007 at the New England Hardcore and Metal Festival in Worchester, as well as music videos for "All that Remains" and "Alien Angel". If you don't own the original release, then buy this one. It makes no difference. All that matters is that you add "The End is Begun" to your collection one way or the other.