Review Summary: The debut album that started a wonderful career of Post-Hardcore magic.
Thrice have always had the ability to make melodically tuneful Post-Hardcore songs whilst refraining from becoming "too mainstream". They have built up a dedicated fan-base and have varied their music greatly whilst retaining their post-hardcore roots throughout. Albums like 'The Artist In The Ambulance' was a polished, refined and solid album where there seemed to be absolutely no flaws. 'The Alchemy Volumes' (I'm referring to both albums) showed great variety covering four different changes in music in an arranged way that showed just how versatile Thrice are. But all bands start somewhere and 'Identity Crisis' was the real start for Thrice. Previously to this they had released an EP of which only 1000 copies were made, so this full-length album that dates back nearly a decade was the start of a successful career for them within the music scene.
The raw recording of this record only goes to show that you don't need big and expensive studios to make a great album. Whilst a lot of bands around rely on the computer edits to cover their flaws and make their music 'great', Thrice relied on their own ability and musical intuition to push themselves to make this great piece of work. The music is like an assault of Post-Hardcore on the ear drums and you'll never really find a dull moment on this record. Whether it's a catchy vocal part, a cleverly worked guitar moment or an interesting drum fill, Thrice never let this get boring, even the silence between tracks sends anticipation through the body.
The guitars work really well together and the two guitarists of Thrice (Dustin Kensrue and Teppei Teranishi) use them in a way where it occasionally seems as if there is not a rhythm guitar, but instead, two lead guitars which transition from riff to riff and solo to solo. You might expect this to let the music down and to make them fall out of rhythm, but these guys really know what they're doing and let the bass and drums do most of the rhythm work while they show off their capabilities in technical riffs, and ear shattering solos. The guitars never really lack in energy, aside from the acoustic intro to Phoenix Ignition
. Even then it seems as if they are just itching to get to the real juicy guitar work, and after just over 30 seconds of acoustic, they jump straight into the song with a pounding riff and short breakdown before the singer lets out a throat-wrenching screamed verse.
Which leads me onto my next paragraph; the vocals. Thrice's frontman, Dustin Kensrue, has a lot of anger and energy in him and he packs it into every song with all his emotion released through the airwaves. He never seems to lack in this department as every word that comes out of his mouth on this album is thrown out in such a fierceful way that even when singing tuneful lines he retains all of his emotion in his words. Right from the start of the first track Identity Crisis
his motives are clear - To make this solid piece of music even better with his ambitious screams and singing.
The rhythm section is pretty tight, with drumming that never seems to slow it's pace unless it's neccessary. Even in the verses, there is never a lapse in energy. One can only imagine how tired Riley Breckenridge must be after a full set of Identity Crisis songs played live. The bass (Eddie Breckenridge) is often hard to hear, but when both guitars move to lead guitar it's much clearer to hear the bass, which is also another reason why Thrice have found a good formula in moving the rhythm guitar to lead guitar a lot of the time here. It gives the bass a lot more attention and allows all the instrumentalists to have their time in the limelight.
It seems hard to determine the great tracks from the amazing tracks here but stand-out tracks seem to be T&C
, Identity Crisis
and As The Ruin Falls
. These tracks seem to be the real gems here and show Thrice at their absolute best on this album. It's hard to say what makes them stand-out so much because every song here really does stand out, but it's possible the songs mentioned stand-out a little more because they seem catchier.
Looking through all of Thrice's music, it's all pretty damn good, and for a debut album that was underproduced this seems to be real gold in Post-Hardcore. The band have showed a lot of their strengths here and made the most of getting a chance in the recording studio. What I'm also impressed with is how the band manage to write 11 Post-Hardcore songs without any of them ever sounding cliche. From just listening to this, a listener may be inclined to think that this is not a debut album, but a band in the height of their career. The only giveaway is the recording quality. It might even be possible that this being so raw gives this album something special, instead of taking it away, and with Thrice it's quite clear that they really don't need anything but their instruments to prove themselves to the world.