Review Summary: Thrice pull all their influences together to create a magnificent transitional album that breaks all expectation.
There comes a time in every band’s career where they must face a crossroad regarding where their music should go. This choice often defines what the band will become over the course of their career. A great example of this would be Metallica, who decided to take a more commercially acceptable approach to their music. The change started for them with … And Justice for all, and was eventually solidified by the Black Album. In this sense, Thrice and Metallica are very similar. Somewhere along the line, Thrice decided that they didn’t want to play what they were playing anymore (an eclectic mix of post-hardcore, pop-punk, and heavy metal). Like Metallica, Thrice decided to change their sound to something more diverse and accessible. Unlike Metallica, however, Thrice decided to do this without sacrificing their musical integrity.
Instead of experimenting more with odd time changes and technical guitar riffing, which was what was expected from them, Thrice decided to experiment more with various musical genres. Instead of creating fast, catchy, heavy, and very technical 3 minute songs, Thrice decided to create music with more melody, atmosphere, dissonance, and variety, all the while mixing things up with various other musical genres and instruments. For example, The Earth will Shake contains influence from post-metal bands like Isis and Neurosis. It starts with a faded out acoustic guitar and Dustin Kensrue’s crooning voice, but eventually erupts into a powerful explosion of crushing guitars. Meanwhile, songs like Atlantic and Between the End and Where we Lie are prime examples of melody and dissonance.
One very noticeable improvement in Thrice’s music is Justin Kensrue’s voice. Obviously this guy has been working on it. His screams are noticeably sharper and his cleans far more in tune, however, his most noticeable improvement is his lyrics. Throughout the album Dustin’s lyrics speak cryptic messages of hope and loss with a wild passion. His messages are powerful, deep, meaningful, and intelligent. For example, The Earth will Shake is about oppression and tyranny, told through a powerful metaphor, comparing us to prisoners in a prison.
If there is one flaw with this album, it is that while many of the songs are great, some are indeed terrible. The main flaw with this album is the opening track, Image of the Invisible. It completely fails as an introduction to the album, as it sounds nothing like any of the other songs. Its misplacement, coupled with its predictable, generic structure that relies too heavily on its chorus is a complete bore that, after a while, gets really old. Most people will consider skipping it after a couple listens. Music Box as well is a song that does not quite meet the standards that are set by the other songs. By no means is it as bad as Image of the Invisible, but it is still heavily reliant on its gimmick (a Japanese music box repeating over and over again) but it is also predictable and boring.
These flaws however are alleviated by the many exceptional songs on the album. It is dynamic, powerful, melodic, heavy, sooting, and abrasive all at once, and is a fantastic example of how to successfully change your sound. By no means is it the perfect record that everybody proclaims it to be, but as many sputnikians say, It’s almost worth the mounds of hyperbolic claim it receives.