Review Summary: Vheissu stands among some of the best releases of the 21st century and only leaves even more places for Thrice to go.“Every man has but one destiny”
-Don Vito Corleone of The Godfather
Looking at Thrice’s origins, it seems like destiny that they came together. The four members came together because of two commonplace hobbies- skateboarding and music. However, these four men happened to have much more talent than your average skate rat. Teppei Teranishi and Dustin Kensrue came together first, the former being a classically trained musician who started playing piano at age 5 but found himself gravitated to the guitar and punk music. After finally forming a full band with brothers Eddie and Riley Breckenridge, Thrice found themselves in the best area in the world for punk music: Orange County, California. Nevertheless, the band began to branch out and pushed further into new sounds, finally capitalizing on their experimental tendencies with Vheissu.
This is not just a punk rock or a post hardcore record. Sure, Thrice’s base sound comes out of that area of music, but Vheissu entails so much more. Rhodes piano, a music box, electronic drums, and Morse code all make their way onto the album. The album’s complexity and denseness all prove that Thrice has the most potential of any band in the world right now, a band that can change the landscape of everything known about modern rock music. Immersing into Vheissu takes a completely focused yet still open mind because there is so much to appreciate. Luckily, Thrice is willing to break the listener in easily. Image of the Invisible
picks up where Thrice left off with Artist in the Ambulance. Obviously designed as the lead single, Image of the Invisible
features a shouted anthem of the title and a great, catchy chorus. Still, the change in sound is immediately apparent. Each verse features something new, mostly in the style of drumming. From electronic to a snare-led drive to a simple beat, Riley Breckenridge adds plenty of variety to the song. While nowhere near the musicianship and songwriting talent of the rest of the album, Image of the Invisible
pulls the listener in effectively and stands among Thrice’s always consistent singles.
It isn’t until The Earth Will Shake
where Vheissu really gets going. The lyrics reminisce upon the days of slavery, especially in the phrase “We dream of black nights without moon or stars.” It features a complex song structure and shows the band playing around with time signatures. The song structure and style draws comparisons to an Oceansize style but the sound comes across much darker and sinister. With eerie organ chords shining over the powerful guitar and bass, the density of sound shows itself for the first time. Kensrue also shows off his screaming ability in one section serving as a sort of chorus and climax. But even The Earth Will Shake
is just a preview of coming attractions in terms of climaxes. For Miles
begins as a bittersweet piano-led affair but it grows into some of the heaviest music on the album. The climax features Dustin’s screaming as well as some brilliantly simple lead guitar from Teranishi. For Miles also shows the use of Biblical concepts rampant all over the album. Nearly half of the album draws direct quotations, including the title of Image of the Invisible
. Dustin has always proclaimed his Christianity but never brought it so far to the forefront as he does on Vheissu. It adds a profound touch to the album and never gets in the way or takes away from the album in any way.
The album’s second half is easily the best, especially when it gears in for the last three tracks. They all show off Thrice’s newfound infatuation with warm keyboards and electronic drums, especially Red Sky
. Red Sky
allows the electric piano and drums to lead the verse along melodically with some delayed guitar. It serves as a calm after the storm of Vheissu but still maintains enough energy to keep the song interesting. Due to the extremely quiet style of the verse, the chorus comes across extremely effectively, which in turn makes Red Sky
an effective single. Red Sky
wasn’t even needed on the album as Stand and Feel Your Worth
is about as epic as the album gets and would serve fantastically as an album closer. The completely electronica-styled opening only serves as ambiance, setting up for the real bulk of the song. It features ironically uplifting lyrics matched with the angry, intense music behind it. The switch from guitar-led melodies and piano melodies creates excellent contrast and allows for the climax to be all the more effective. It comes after a mix of clean guitar and Rhodes piano with a pseudo-jazzy style. Dustin quickly begins screaming as the dense sound creates an ambiguous mesh of guitar and bass. The atmospheric production of Dustin’s voice makes the climax what it is.
Not every song on the album brews in intensity and builds to a huge climax. That is what Between the End and Where We Lie
, and Red Sky
are for. While they serve their purpose of bringing the energy down for a bit, the songs lack in quality compared to the rest of the album. They come across with an empty sound and, with the exception of Red Sky
, are somewhat boring. Vheissu, although under an hour, is a huge album. It sprawls in its density and complexity, always leaving the listener to find something new on each listen. Still, even in its density, many of the songs have great hooks and memorable moments that make them equally as accessible. This album didn’t put Thrice under the radar in popularity, it only increased it. They continued to come out on mainstream tours such as Taste of Chaos and ended up being a headliner for most of them. Vheissu shows Thrice’s mastery of songwriting and musicianship with some of the band’s finest moments to date.
The Earth Will Shake
Stand and Feel Your Worth