Review Summary: Slightly disappointing follow-up to the very good 'Full Collapse', this bridging album of sorts gets by on it's highlights & ability to grow on listeners over time.
I am by no means a huge fan of hardcore or post-hardcore music. With my personal preferences leaning more towards the mainstream and a general dislike for screaming vocals that cannot be understood, I require a fair dose of melody for post-hardcore bands to get my attention. Yet there was something about Thursday's 2nd album 'Full Collapse' that drew me into it and made me appreciate all of the individual factors of the band coming together into a successful force.
With their follow-up and major label debut 'War All The Time', all of the same ingredients return but seem a little watered down for want of a better term. Whether it is the interesting song structures, trademark vocals, meaningful lyrics, intricate musicianship, subtle hooks or raw intensity and aggressiveness, Thursday continue to play on their strengths. However, while clearly taking a step towards further mainstream accessibility here, the album somehow becomes a little less immediate, making this a grower of an album more than anything else.
The album starts off well with 'For the Workforce, Drowning' being an energetic and effective fast-paced opener with decent catchiness. But it is 2nd track 'Between Rupture and Rapture' that highlights why this release is not up to its predecessor. The interesting song structure returns with this song, but it is missing that hook, whether musical or vocal, to complete it so that it rises above being just an average album track. It is in no ways a bad song, but nothing more than average and the same concerns resurface later in the album with track 6 'Asleep in the Chapel' and track 10 'M.Shepard'.
Fortunately, Thursday do replicate the unpredictable nature of 'Full Collapse' on 'Marches and Maneuvers'. From it's methodically paced almost lush beginning, to dueling clean and screaming vocals, to the many guitar shifts, this track works on multiple levels. As do 2 other songs that rely on effective moody atmospherics; 'Division Street', which is a real grower that highlights vocalist Geoff Rickly's original voice, and 2nd single 'War All The Time' which uses mesmerizing guitar work in conjunction with excellent vocals to steadily build up to be my album highlight.
'Signals Over the Air' approaches the effectiveness of these tracks, but isn't entirely convincing. With its hybrid mentality seemingly looking to expand the band's audience, this 1st single produces a solid, but not necessarily standout track. Elsewhere, 'Steps Ascending' and closer 'Tomorrow I'll Be You' are disappointing mish-mashes, while the raw piano ballad 'This Song Brought to You by a Falling Bomb' does provide variety but seems too out of place and may actually be masking the inability to perform a standard guitar-based ballad.
To sum up, 'War All The Time' is a little disappointing to a point, yet is still a decent album. It is rather inconsistent, but gets by on its highlights and its ability to grow on the listener over time. First listens will undoubtedly be met with skepticism, but Thursday's usual intricacies become apparent on further listens and their interesting songwriting (both lyrically and musically) eventually shine through. However, as an attempt at crossover appeal, this release is only partially successful. Add this to the intensity being taken down a notch and the musicianship not quite being used as well as their previous release and one has to conclude this is more of a bridging album. It will be interesting to see what is served up next.
Recommended Tracks: War All The Time, Division Street & Marches and Maneuvers.
Thanks ILIKEMUSICTHATSUCKS. It seems there is more love for this album than I thought. Actually, I was a little surprised that you don't have ratings up for the Thursday albums when you mentioned on my 'Full Collapse' review that the album was life altering or something similar to that.
well of course i've read the reviews Davey, and you do an excellent job of backing up your rating in both of them.
but i was hoping you could explain what seperates these 2 specific albums in your opinion? cuz i personally believe this album to be an almost perfect blend of technicality, flow, mood, catchiness, and song structure for the post-hardcore genre. plus the lyrics are far better than Emery's.
Adam, a case can indeed be made that this is better than ACBTLDivided, but I definitely feel their newie is better than this. Hell, it made my Top 10 of 2009, so I have to say that!
Stan, I guess what it mainly comes down is I have question marks on pretty much more than half of these tracks. In a way, the fact I was still writing track-by-tracks in disguise at this time helps my argument here as if you read the 3rd & 5th paragraphs above, I state that 7 of the 11 tracks range from "disappointing mish-mashes" to "average".
In comparison to the new Emery album, there isn't even a comparison to make in terms of catchiness & accessibility. And while I have grown to like Geoff's vocals, you know I love the melody of Toby & his dueling vocals with Devin & Josh.
I might be willing to give you mood & song structure, but I think Emery are under-rated in those stakes and people keep overlooking their technicality due to the catchiness.
As for the lyrics, I'd have to go back to listen to this album to compare. Lyrics are a personal thing anyway. What is relateable to one person is completely the opposite for another.
interesting, thank you. i guess we'll just have to agree to disagree. although i am definitely with you on the greatness of Emery's split vocals, and i will agree that Emery has plenty of technicality.
one thing on the lyrics though: yes, it is true that lyrics are personal. however, there is a standard of artistic quality. for example, there are hoards of tweenies that relate to Miley Cyrus' lyrics, but that doesn't mean she's a good lyricist.
You're welcome. I always try to be accountable, hence why I write reviews or sound-offs for most of my ratings.
As for your Miley Cyrus point, I understand & agree... But if Miley's lyrics are personal to someone, then they can justify a high rating to some extent. The only real time I go against that theory is with someone like Ke$ha, who is a consistently very bad influence. So says Uncle Davey. :-)