The Local Twenty:
Rkstar Twenty
The Weekly Newsletter:

Venue Information:
Genre Selection:

Artist Search
Reader's Choice
Local Artists
QuickTime Videos
Name That Tune
Music/Site News
Rkstar Services

Contact Info About The Site/FAQ
Message Board Edit Your Profile
Message Bar
CD Review
Thrice- Vheissu
by Arya Chowdhury
Staff Writer

  When the band Thrice released 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 Ambulance, the band spent alot more time crafting and experimenting new music influenced by the likes of Coldplay, Talk Talk, and White Pony-era Deftones (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., Illusion'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".

  While Vheissu 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 mutually exclusive.
  • Read/Post comments about this article