“We are the image of the invisible..."
Thrice are one of the few bands who have progressed as a band over their time together. From the harder efforts of Identity Crisis
right through to the somewhat poppier and more mainstream The Artist In The Ambulance
, Thrice have experimented with riffs and lyrics, and their fanbase has stood by them throughout. But with the arrival of what could possibly be their last record for Island Records, Vheissu
, what will they think of this? The album was inspired by the book V by Thomas Pynchon, a philosophical passage throughout 496 pages about the life of a US navy merchant.
I think it’s fair to say “Image Of The Invisible" is one of the most powerful singles of the year. It is probably the most Thrice-ish song on the album, and the link between this and TAITA. However, it’s an awesome song, and it’s hard not to feel the intensity and passion in the shouting of the title. Lyrics like “We all were lost now we are found/No one can stop us or slow us down", it really demonstrates that even though Thrice are ever-expanding with their musicianship, they love everything they do and are proud of it all. The mood, however, moves from anthemic to awkward as “Between The End And Where We Lie" begins with strange noises that ring out softly and a simple drum beat that only shows off it’s experimentation more. The range of vocals are a brilliant touch to the song as well, as it slowly eases you in, and the lyrics are equally as good (“Here all hopes and dreams are scavenged from the floor/And fed into machines that feed on vacant eyes" is a great example). And as the song ends, it leads into another stranger intro. The distorted vocals and barely-listenable acoustic of “The Earth Will Shake" quickly heads into a downbeat demonstration of powerful basslines and lyrics. “We dream of jailers throwing down their arms/We dream of open gates and no alarms" echoes throughout the song, with more use of the gang-vocals shouting out loud. It takes a while to get into it, but it does sound very anthemic again after a while.
“Atlantic" begins with a very soothing keyboard melody laced over noise and another drum beat. The vocals ring out for a long time too, adding to tension in the song. You expect it to burst out like “BTEAWWL", but instead it takes you on a journey through lead guitar licks and acoustic guitar switches. The mood feels very surreal and relaxed, something Thrice are not known to be near, so I give them credit for creating such a hauntingly-downbeat song. “For Miles" is another slower song, relying on lyrics and a beautiful piano melody to keep listeners entertained. It does pretty good, but you can’t help but feel you’ve head it before. Maybe not from Thrice, but it doesn’t sound as great as the previous slower songs. But never fear, “Hold Fast Hope" is right around the corner, providing a fury of beats and strong vocals to please your eardrums. This is another highlight of the album, quickly shifting from cheerful melodic hardcore to just plain post-hardcore. Screeching basslines drive this song further and bring out the heaviness Thrice are known for. “Steel yourself in sackcloth, roll your heart in ash/Scrape your skin with steel wool and hold fast hope" gets sung so beautifully for the lyrics that they are, and they sound so graphic.
The harsher sound is once again overshadowed by the opening to “Music Box", which again changes styles throughout. It isn’t the easiest song to get into, but eases you in with slow rhythms and pounding guitars, which lead into eerie verses with drum beats and xylophones. However, the bridge sounds epic with guitar parts which ring out chord after chord, and vocals which shout so hard. It’s quickly followed up by one of the heaviest songs on the disc, “Like Moths To Flame". The guitars roar from the beginning, but once again it doesn’t last long, leading to another acoustically-driven verse. Slightly disappointing, but it doesn’t last long. “I've never been this cold, the fire's gravity compels/Like planets cling to sol, i feel my orbit start to fail" gets growled in the bridge, backed by those vicious riffs and bassline, and it really does bring out the lyrics more. It’s personally my favourite song on the album, ending in an all out angst-ridden poem. “Of Dust And Nations" begins off very ghostly, with a haunting sound. But it leads into one of the most upbeat songs on the album, filled with smooth guitar melodies and more fantastic vocals. “Where thieves break in and steal/Pull the fangs from out your heel/We live in but a shadow of the real" shows off Dustin’s lyrics again, breaking one mood with another.
“Stand and Feel Your Worth" is in a sentence, the personification of Vheissu
. It’s the longest track on the album, clocking in at just under 6 minutes. It shifts gears so much it’s hard to keep track of where you are, but the lyrics bring it together so well. Lyrics like “We are wrought with breath and dirt, washed in second sight/Woven through the earth, wreathed in rings of light/We will wield a second birth, whet our wits and knives/Wrap our knees in earth, wrap ourselves in light" emphasize the song so much. It is anthemic, epic, grand, all these words we use to describe the royalist of objects. To put it simply, it’s art. Thrice’s latest piece of work caps off with “Red Sky", the finishing touch to this masterpiece. Quite possibly one of the best songs of the year, the lyrics are passionate and paint a picture inside your mind, while you become captivated in their melodic and moving harmony . It’s hard to ignore such metaphor’s like “The wind’s a cheating wife, her tongue a thirsty knife/And she could take your life with one good kiss", and it’s the lyrics from this album that deserve the most credit in my eyes.
I’ll admit it, I’ve never been the biggest Thrice fan. Even this album took me 3, 4 listens to really buy into what they created. But look past that sound which is somewhat ahead of it’s time, and delve into the lyrics and the tone of the music, and you’ll find a beautifully written album filled with passion and enthusiasm, and philosophy and stories. For some time now, I’ve had certain albums classed as the best of the year. Finch’s Say Hello To Sunshine
, Jack’s Mannequin’s Everything In Transit
, Panic! At The Disco’s A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out
. But when I heard this for what it was, I realized it is much deeper than it looks, and it does take a few listens to get into it. You know why? Because it’s supposed it make you want to find out what it all means, and why they wrote it. Vheissu
could easily be ranked up where with the likes of Deja Entendu
and The Shape Of Punk To Come
if enough people will take the time to listen to it properly. The only thing that stops it from being a perfect album is that it drags out sometimes. Songs like “For Miles" and “Music Box" are a gamble, since both are very long (The shortest track on the album is 3:55) and don’t offer much variety. But aside from those little gripes, I’m certain the best of Thrice’s fans (And some newcomers to the band) will love this album and be able to appreciate it for what it is.
- “Image Of The Invisible"
- “Like Moths To Flame"
- “Stand and Feel Your Worth"
- “Red Sky"
[url]http://www.myspace.com/thrice[/url] (Stream the entire album - NOTE: You can't skip songs or go back, it plays through the album without stopping)
[url]http://www.purevolume.com/thrice[/url] (Listen to "Image Of The Invisible" and a sampler of the album)