Post-hardcore outfit Thrice hails from Orange County, California, one of the epicenters of America's punk scene. Thrice's 2000 debut, IDENTITY CRISIS, mixed elements of punk, screamo, and pop with progressive tendencies. Subsequent albums, such as 2002's THE ILLUSION OF SAFETY and 2005's VHEISSU, found the group moving toward a more progressive, musically complex style. Thrice supported these albums with extensive touring, hitting the road with such acts as Samiam, Further Seems Forever, and Coheed & Cambria. In '07 and '08, Thrice released two albums of live material, and a four-part conceptual project entitled THE ALCHEMY INDEX.
"Image of the Invisible," the album's first single, starts with the sound of Morse code, then shifts into a stuttery beat before being consumed by post-punk guitar clamor and clattering drums. Just as it reaches its most aggressive point, tuneful call-and-response vocals flow through the mix, counteracting the menacing vibe. Then there is "Atlantic," which features drifty, echoing keyboards and acoustic strumming and "Like Moths To Flame," a sonic see-saw filled with moody piano, marching drums and a visceral wall of guitars.
"Our biggest goal was to make something different, even if we didn't know at first exactly what that meant," singer Dustin Kensrue says. "We just knew we wanted it to be atmospheric and create a space you could kind of live in. Our records have been kind of flat and two dimensional in the past, so we definitely wanted to try to do something more open sounding." "I think I just got a little burned out on really aggressive, heavy music," adds drummer Riley Breckenridge. "Suddenly, the stuff that was moving me was not inspiring me to get all riled up and want to tear somebody's head off, but something that had really dramatic dynamics and mood swings with the way the chords moved from verse to chorus."Unlike their past albums, which were penned during downtime from touring, Thrice came up with many of the ideas for Vheissu while they were on the road supporting their 2003 record The Artist in the Ambulance. The extra time the band gained from writing in the bus gave them the ability to experiment without worrying about having to meet an impending deadline. "In the beginning, we were actually swinging a lot further left than this record even is," says Kensrue. "We were writing really slow, really weird stuff, but I think it was good for us to be able to push our boundaries like that, then come back to a place where we were still pushing out, but at the same time doing something that was more of a logical step from the last record."Even after the songs were streamlined a bit, the songs were still packed with startling, ingenious touches, like the chain gang chorus that cuts through the murky, multifaceted strains of "The Earth Will Shake," the sparse piano and underwater drum sounds of "Of Dust And Nations" and the swelling oppressive guitars in "For Miles," which build like a sky full of dark clouds before erupting into a chaotic thunderstorm. One of the most alluring tracks is "Music Box," in which a haunting Japanese music box melody overlaps a procession of lumbering beats, crashing guitars, angular licks and acoustic jangle.
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