Thrice
The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II


4.5
superb

Review

by SoCalPunk21 USER (3 Reviews)
October 29th, 2007 | 13 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Thrice continue their experimental expansion and craft an impressive first entry in a powerful concept-driven project.

Thrice are heading in a direction that has claimed the lives of many promising rock bands. By eschewing commercial success in favor of artistic expression, they may be digging their own graves, but rarely has that process sounded so sweet.

The Orange County, California quartet are taking a big risk by releasing what can only be described as half of a full-fledged prog-rock album. “The Alchemy Index” is a four-EP concept album that revolves around the four classical elements: fire, water, earth and air. Each disc contains six songs that sonically and thematically revolve around one of the four elements. The first half, “The Alchemy Index Volumes I & II: Fire & Water,” is available now. The other half, the earth and air discs, will be released in April of 2008.

2005’s “Vheissu” hinted that Thrice were shedding their post-hardcore roots and moving into uncharted territory. That record was met with positive reviews, but slower album sales than either 2002’s “The Illusion of Safety” or 2003’s “The Artist in the Ambulance.” “Vheissu” saw Thrice create more expansive instrumentation and song-structures than any of their previous work.

The progressive leanings of “Vheissu” are expanded upon, and then some, on the first two discs of “The Alchemy Index.” The fire disc is furious and intense. It opens with the brutal guitar-sludge and dark atmospheres of “Firebreather” before launching into the manic-electronica-meets-hardcore of “The Messenger.” The rest of the disk experiments with several different sounds, all of them on fire (excuse the pun). From a paranoid, frightening comparison of a jilted lover to a room without oxygen in a house fire, waiting to explode (“Backdraft”) to a stately rumination on the futility and hatred of war (“The Flame Deluge”) that is both beautiful and devastating, the fire disk shows Thrice’s versatility. Frontman Dustin Kensrue shines as he combines beautiful melodies with all the rage and fury fire can project in throat-shredding screams.

The water disc is, understandably so, the complete opposite of the fire disc. The manic fury of the fire disc gives way to the cold, heavy understatement of water. As impressive as the fire half is, Thrice really shine on the six water tracks. The disc begins with “Digital Sea.” A churning electronic beat propels Kensrue’s breathy vocals. The whole disc feels organic and alive, but there is a coldness here that feels like the ocean at night: alive, yet dark and forbidding. Soaked in moody atmosphere and dripping with electronic sounds, the water disc is a huge departure from Thrice’s back-catalog. The rippling electronic undercurrent of “The Whaler” tugs the track towards its beautiful climax of vocal harmonies that lead into the dirge-like closer, “Kings Upon the Main.” If you listen to the final track closely, you can see the darkening sky and rolling swells of the growing ocean storm Kensrue’s lyrics describe.

“The Alchemy Index Volumes I & II: Fire & Water” is a triumphant exploration of the elements. Thrice have set a lofty goal and reached it with ease by effortlessly capturing the brittle heat and intensity of fire, and the ethereal beauty and mystery of water, without ever becoming cheesy or going over-the-top. We can only count the days for the release of the second half of this project.

Though it may be commercial suicide for a successful young rock band to forget writing songs for the masses (Thrice never did much of this anyway) and focus on creating art, the results are more than enough to satisfy, if you’re willing to expand your definition of what music can be. Depending on what the second half of the project delivers, this may be a legitimate album-of-the-year contender.


user ratings (1877)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
1 of
  • Bryan H. (4)
    A little bit of the old, and a little bit of the new. And then a little more of the new....

    BlindWriting (2.5)
    Thrice's ambitious 2007 release, though often interesting, is too musically and conceptual...

    camdizzle (2)
    The songs on Volumes I & II of the Alchemy index are not bad by themselves, but the album ...

    Jeremy Price (3.5)
    Thrice dissect themselves and explore the core ideas of their music, with solid results ov...

  • Tyler Fisher EMERITUS (4.5)
    A concept album that actually focuses on the betterment of the band as musicians and artis...

    Mixhail (4.5)
    Thrice dares to go where no band goes before: 4 uniquely sounding discs for the purpose of...

    Devon Longerbeam (5)
    At the end of the day [i]The Alchemy Index: Volumes I & II[/i] is a contender for best con...

    Nick Greer EMERITUS (4.5)
    Thrice releases Kid A and the Infinite Sadness....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Serpento
October 29th 2007


2351 Comments


You compare this too much to Vhiessu imo. Then again, I still haven't heard it.This Message Edited On 10.29.07

Electric City
Staff Reviewer
October 29th 2007


15737 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Make double spaces between the paragraphs, plz.

Digging: Ricky Eat Acid - Three Love Songs

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
October 29th 2007


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

WALL

SoCalPunk21
October 29th 2007


26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I totally intended to fix the paragraphs before I submitted the review, my bad.

In response to the comment about Vheissu, I really feel like Thrice began this expansion of their artistic goals with that album. A few songs on Vheissu (with a little tweaking) would have worked on the Alchemy Index. "Atlantic" is the most obvious choice, but the B-Side "Flags of Dawn" would have worked well on the water disc, too.

All of their previous albums are good, but Vheissu is leaps ahead of pretty much anything else the "post-hardcore" genre has produced before. Most "heavy" music is just loud without being thoughtful and artistic. Beginning with Vheissu and continuing to a greater degree on the Alchemy Index, Thrice are showing that aggressive music can also be deep and complex sonically and thematically.This Message Edited On 10.29.07

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
October 29th 2007


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you can still fix it. go to "my profile" (top right) then "edit my reviews" (on the left) and click your review.

SoCalPunk21
October 29th 2007


26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

fixed

thanks, I'm a total noob here.

Yazz_Flute
October 29th 2007


18783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Welcome to the site! I thought this was an excellent first review. My pos/vote.

I don't own any thrice, i'm normally one of the site's many metalheads, and i listen to very little music that's not metal, but i've been meaning to check out another non-metal band, and Thrice sounds good.

Digging: Battles - Mirrored

Tyler
Emeritus
October 29th 2007


7926 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Fire is pretty metal influenced. Just FYI. Water will be a good change for you though.

SoCalPunk21
October 29th 2007


26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

If you're normally into metal, Thrice's older releases should be a great jumping off point. Their first three major releases all have lots of old-school metal influences. Metallica/Iron Maiden-type chugging riffs are prevalent on both Identity Crisis and the Illusion of Safety.

Serpento
October 29th 2007


2351 Comments


Alright, I see where you're coming from with Vhiessu. I can't agree with it being better than their other releases though, especially Illusion of Safety.

MoonlightBleeding
October 29th 2007


452 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This is a really good review, but we're kind of overdoing the Alchemy reviews, huh?

MrKite
October 29th 2007


5020 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

What's the difference really?

SoCalPunk21
October 30th 2007


26 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Illusion of Safety was a great album, yeah, but you can't really argue that it's deeper or more musically interesting than Alchemy. Kensrue was still developing as a lyricist and the guitar work, while it is a blast to play and listen to, is a little over the top. I gave Illusion a 4 and Alchemy a 4.5. It's really close.



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