Review Summary: Thrice continue to be stubborn and refuse to fit into a neat little genre as all music should.
It’s easy to tell that Thrice were in good form during the writing of ‘Vheissu’. For some artists, their finest work sprouts from conflict and tension – look at Deftones, Soundgarden and hell, even Kings of Leon. For some comes commercial success, others artistic, and for few comes both – what that does for the band is entirely unpredictable. In the case of Thrice, relative peace and prosperity within the group spawned what is a strong, consistent alternative slash progressive slash metal slash everthing else. It is a wonder, with their chronic stylistic convulsion, how the band managed to come through with both their fan base and critical reception intact and better than ever. The surprise comes with how well ‘Vheissu’ was received among fans of the pseudo-pop punk, post-hardcore ‘Artist in the Ambulance’ – if it were any other band they would have been, suffice it to say, ***ed.
It would be curious to note the intent behind ‘Between The End And Where We Lie’. Reflections of the band’s former pop-punk/hardcore sound are seen throughout, with obvious grabs for radio play given the second-track placement and the someone uninspired, hook-laden content. It falls far short of the intensity and vibe of the opening track, which proves to be one of their best and most anthemic. The viewer’s first glimpse of artistic perfection is found in ‘The Earth Will Shake’, the delicate yet chugging, brutal yet stunning epic with a sporadic form and textural construction. Dustin Kensrue’s vocals shine here more so than ever, and the guitar work of Teppei Teranishu is brilliant and expansive at worst. Bliss is thrice more found in ‘For Miles’, ‘Of Dust and Nations’ and ‘Red Sky’, the first of which is I can safely declare is the best track on the record. Its piano-ridden instrumentals provide a stellar backing to one of Kensrue’s finest and most emotional vocal performances. As the man screams ‘when someone stands in your shoes and will shed his own blood, there’s no greater love,’ it is nothing short of chill-inducing, and a sure album highlight.
The band’s musical epilepsy is exhibited ever so fruitfully in ‘Of Dust And Nations’, with some of Teppei’s most thrilling and otherworldly guitar work found throughout. The chorus is uplifting in a way that only Thrice seems to be able to do, and the progressive rock sort of breakdown at the end proves to be the atmospheric summit of the record. ‘Red Sky’ may well be a Glassjaw song, and it has since proven to be one of the band’s most popular and closes the album in style. There isn’t a truly boring track here, with some only proving to be opposing to one’s own personal preference when taking into account the intensity of ‘Hold Fast Hope’ or the odd key signatures of ‘Music Box’.
It truly is a shame that Thrice decided not to go on for a while, but in retrospect of their career it seems that the band had a fulfilling natural life. ‘Vheissu’ was their clear peak, but Major/Minor proved not only to be a solid closing record but one of their best. What the band lacked in hair, they always made up for in the raw emotional content and endless instrumental depth of each LP, constantly growing and challenging their fans (to the point where it’s a wonder they have any left). Perhaps if the band had shot for a ‘Vheissu’ number two, they’d be playing stadiums by now, but we all know in hindsight that we wouldn’t change a thing.