When the band Thrice
The Illusion of Safety
3 years ago, they
gained alot of critical acclaim and a rabid fanbase for blending heavy,
melodic music with intelligent lyrics and songwriting. It reflected that
while the band members were listening to bands such as At the Gates and
Poison the Well, singer/guitarist/lyricist Dustin Kensrue had been reading
Edgar Allen Poe and C.S. Lewis (several songs serve as direct literary
references to these authors).
Enter the band as they are today. They have stated in interviews that they
do not listen to as many such heavy bands, and in fact have all but retired
playing songs prior to The Illusion of Safety
live. Following the release
of their major label debut and Illusion
's successor The Artist in the
, the band spent alot more time crafting and experimenting new
music influenced by the likes of Coldplay
Talk Talk, and White Pony
(OK, they haven't completely given up on heavy music). The net
result of this new direction is their latest release Vheissu
The album is indeed as diverse as advertised. For instance, while lead
guitarist Teppei Teranishi has shown his keyboard skills before on songs
like "Deadbolt" and a live reworking of "So Strange I Remember You", they
are now on full display on such cuts as "Between the End and Where We Lie"
and "For Miles". In fact, much of his inventive guitar parts that made
Thrice heads and shoulders above its peers have been toned down on this
release, though making occasional appearances on "Of Dust and Nations" and
the lead single "The Image of the Invisible".
Also, Dustin's lyrics have definitely changed over the years. Instead of
writing from the perspective of someone who has lost his faith (e.g.,
's "Betrayal is the Symptom") or adopting a more satirical
approach (much of The Artist in the Ambulance
, including "Don't Ask and We
Won't Tell"), he uses the concept of hope and the definition of humanity as
pivotal themes throughout most, if not all, of the songs. There are many
overt Christian allusions such as a reinterpretation of Peter's denial of
Jesus in "Like Moths To Flame". While Dustin has had references to his
faith in the past, they are made much more obvious on Vheissu
With each album that the group puts out, you get a sense that they have
progressed as musicians. They went from pop-punk ("First Impressions") to
metal/melodic hardcore ("Identity Crisis" and "The Illusion of Safety") to a
more hard rock sound ("The Artist in the Ambulance"). While many of the
songs on The Artist in the Ambulance
were alot more radio-friendly (such
as "Stare at the Sun" and the title track), it also showed drummer Riley
Breckenridge and bassist Eddie Breckenridge coming even more into their own
in terms of creative arrangements and grooves on songs such as "Paper
Tigers" and "Hoods on Peregrine".
continues the trend of progression in the fact that the band
has embraced many different elements (such as the electronic beats in
"Atlantic" and "Stand and Feel Your Worth"), it is not an absolute plateau.
I found the song "Like Moths to Flame" rather bland musically compared the
rest of the tracks. That said, the aptly titled "The Earth Will Shake"
showcased the band's more involved attention to dynamics with its chain-gang
bridge and spacey, Isis-inspired instrumental sections. The 5/4 bombast of
"Hold Fast Hope" retains the band's former heaviness while having an
atmospheric bridge in which clean guitar accompanies Dustin's vocals going
through what sounds like a Leslie cabinet.
Overall, a good step forward for Thrice in terms of opening up their sound
and not being afraid to put out a somewhat non-commercial, challenging
record in the wake of a climate filled with bands they have influenced.
While it is not their consummate masterpiece, it shows that they are still
progressive and relevant in an age where the market dictates these terms be
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