Review Summary: This isn't your older brother's Thursday.
Thursday have come to the point in their storied career where they hardly need to change to make a statement. With their last album, A City By The Light Divided we saw an often softer, more electronic side of Thursday that certainly took a few listens to latch onto. Now enter, Common Existence, an album deeply rooted into their hardcore/screamo roots with a touch of their previous releases lingering. Thursday have recently experimented and partly succeeded with this approach within their split with Envy, but this album stretched more boundaries and felt like an accomplished work.
Common Existence rubs off as a gritty, wishy-washy album with some of Thursday’s heaviest songs yet. Perhaps their collaboration with Envy and Geoff’s stint with United Nations altered the result of Common Existence. In fact, Thursday hardly hesitated to yank “As He Climbed The Dark Mountain” from the Envy split, which was arguable their best song from the EP. It is the aggressive songwriting found with “As He Climbed The Dark Mountain” that ultimately compliments the rest of the album. Thursday didn’t split hairs, as they assembled a consistently heavy assault, beginning with “Resuscitation Of A Dead Man” and “Last Call.” Neither tracks as catchy as their last single, “Counting 5-4-3-2-1,” but certainly worth individual merit. With that, a notable attribute of Common Existence is how far the album has strayed away from Full Collapse and even their last release, A City By The Light Divided. With Full Collapse, the songs had a particular aura and calming passion that has undoubtedly turned into a more intense enthusiasm. But it is not all gone.
Thursday is still capable of a cutesy track here and there. The muddled acoustic sound of “Time’s Arrow” and almost too forced “Love Has Led Us Astray” provide a weird change of pace within the album. It is as if they slowed things down just for the sake of it, rather than middling something that keep the Common Existence on all cylinders. With every slip-up they find a way to bounce back quickly. The nostalgic “Circuits of Fever,” which hardly has a defined guitar riff, focuses on dense and thunderous bass riffs coupled with Geoff’s vocals flipping between hallowed screams and spoken word, a true staple of the album. Common Existence ends with “You Were The Cancer,” a perfect, fitting closing track. “You Were The Cancer slowly builds, yet never appears too extensive to lose the epic feeling bolstering its appearance, which eventually explodes almost as defiantly as “Jet Black New Year.” They could only wish.
In the end, Common Existence can come off as sloppy and discombobulated, but the issue that hurts the album most extensively is the overall approach of the off-centered rhythms and at times ‘I want to vomit’ lyrics, no matter how fitting and poetic. Something to take away is something not immediately recognizable, but the fact of their progress since original Thursday’s sound. In the grand scheme of things, I’m taken aback on how Thursday can still manage to spark my interest with each new album. Just when Thursday seems to stir in unfamiliar, unwanted territory, they manage to find a way to make it happen.