Now that The Almost delivers its third album (its second full-length after the Southern Weather debut album, which was a pleasant sonic surprise and the Monster Monster EP), the outfit can no longer sneak up on anyone as a surprise from the former drummer of Underoath turned microphone-gripping and sometimes guitar-wielding frontman. Aaron Gillespie has surrounded himself with competent musicians in drummer Joe Musten, guitarists Jay Vilardi and Dusty Redmon, and bassist Jon Thompson. They all holed up in Nashville’s Omni Studios with producer Marshall Altman and hashed out the entire thing in a live setting. The process translates into an energetic album. Take the song “I’m Down,” which charges along like a Southern rock jam session picking up steam, with blistering slide guitar, claps and thundering drums. “You can’t count me out,” Gillespie cries like a desperate man that means it. “So What” is another good representation of the sort of “feed off this drumbeat and let’s see what goes from there” impromptu jam/creative method. “Ghost” kicks off the album with a Foo Fighters slugging rhythm that builds into a crashing declaration that, “you can’t touch my ghost inside.” The live approach puts its heavy imprint on tunes that would otherwise be bratty pop songs – like “Never Be Like You” – and this is a good thing, because a new energy emerges that feels more like passion than pretense. But it’s not all grit and tough guy rock, though, because Gillespie and Co. have consistently shown its audience that they know how to craft and present a hook. Anthemic tunes like “Come On” have that big party rock chorus that’ll get hands wavin’ up in the air like they just don’t care and it would certainly make a good topdown driving song for the summer. Their cover of the Andrew Gold ’70s hit “Lonely Boy” takes that same care with a great melody and story, adding their own spin to a classic (much like their well-crafted release of “Free Fallin’” on the Punk Goes Classic Rock compilation on Fearless a few years ago). The Almost might’ve committed a scene faux pas by rocking out so hard in such a straight-forward way, but if the audience will listen, the energy invoked on these 11 tracks has a great chance of strengthening their fanbase.