First Impressions



by Nick Greer EMERITUS
June 15th, 2006 | 17 replies

Release Date: 1998 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Rarely can bands begin with a perfect jump start, and this rough hewn EP provides a lovable, fun introduction to Thrice's career.

Thrice - First Impressions

Straight up, Thrice is my favorite band. I love them in every incarnation. This is because not only do they consistently reinvent their sound, but they always write incredibly challenging and successful music in the midst of trying something new every album. LP-wise, it all started with Identity Crisis, which established Thrice a a solid melodic hardcore band that was heavily influenced by skate punk and 80s metal guitar. Then came The Illusion of Safety, which saw Thrice take their mix of influences and blend them more smoothly than they had onIdentity Crisis. The pop punk elements were catchier, the hardcore was more brutal, and the metal was more technically proficient. It is this album that is typically considered their best by Thrice fans. After that came, The Artist in the Ambulance, which was a sell out for most of their totally hella mad hardcore fans. TAITA had an even further stratification of pop punk and metal, by having the poppiest parts be catchier and the metal parts more mathy and teched out. It was on this album that the notion of "hardcore" sort of dropped out of the mix. Then, lastly, Vheissu featured a dropping of the original influences altogether, and the introduction of new influences like post-metal (Isis, Deftones, Pelican) and radio rock (Cave In, Radiohead). Most people identify the changes a band undergoes through the course of their career as "evolution." Evolution suggests some kind of forward of upward progression, which is not the most fitting way to describe Thrice's movement. I feel like Thrice has always been on top of their game in producing good music, but the genre they use to produce that good music, is always changing.

Now that we are in the Vheissu era of Thrice's continuous metamorphosis, we are at a time at which Thrice's earliest album, Identity Crisis, is the most distant and unusual. I bet that brand new Thrice fans who don't know about TAITA and IOS, could hear Identity Crisis and believe it to be the work of some random Southern California melodic hardcore band, not the Thrice they think they know. However, to go to the most distant point from the current album, one has to look to the precursor to Identity Crisis, the EP First Impressions. First Impressions sounds like Identity Crisis but slightly more punk, and with much worse production value. That's a pretty accurate, yet simple way of understanding their progression. They started as simple punks who could play their instruments mad quickly and moved towards being more avant garde and challenging with their music. First Impressions is really not a great album or anything. It's only an EP but it has some really great moments on it, though it doesn't function well as an album at all.

As a way of understanding or analyzing this it's best to look at each element of the band for what it's good for, a look at how First Impressions hints at that but doesn't fulfill it. Firstly, notice the technicality of the instruments. Thrice's biggest draw-in, especially during their IOS days, was the guitar riffs. Teppei is the man, but once, he was more like the boy. Here the guitar is good and fast and fun, but all of the riffs and solos could be picked out by an intermediate player. At this stage, Teppei was early on in his electric guitar days (as he hadn't played anything but classical guitar until he started playing in Thrice) and it shows. The playing on all the instruments is sloppy in general, but in the more technically demanding moments, it is incredibly evident on the lead guitar. For example, on the introduction of "Opaque" there are notes that audibly aren't attacked well, and on the "T&C" solo there are tons of off attacks on the guitar unison, showing a slight lack of tightness between Dustin and Teppei that reaches maturation later in the band's career. However, these little technical flaw are trumped by the fact that the leads are awesome and sound great, even with their little imperfections. The technical issue is present in the other instruments as well but in a different way. An interesting instrument to look at is the drums. On later albums, the drumming focuses on unique accenting and odder time signatures, whereas on this album is all about playing fast and hard. Sure both techniques are difficult to play and physically demanding, but most people are going to agree that the accents and time signatures are most tasteful or intriguing than the speed of a punk beat. So, here we have a youthful understanding of what it means to write crazy drums. They are fast, and of course incredibly enjoyable, however there is a lack of depth to the playing that will be apparent to anybody who has listened to "Paper Tigers" or "For Miles."

A second main concern is the songwriting. As Thrice moved into later albums, they focused on breaking away from the punk paradigm of having power chords mixed with an octave melodic line. Now, on Vheissu Thrice uses a much wider range of instrumentation and doesn't necessarily just use barre chords to get the harmony across. A lot of it is implied or expressed across multiple instruments, which is much more interesting. Here, the chords are expressed simply in keeping with the punk influences. Also, the actual chords used are much simpler. I feel like the chords progressions are often a little repetitious and are usually always in harmonic minor to get that slightly darker feel that usually isn't present in minor key punk and likely comes from their metal influences. Beyond that, as mentioned earlier, the drumming is a little shallow compared to the more recent efforts, though it is not the only instrument guilty of using more shallow compositional techniques. First Impressions is incredibly catchy, and this is achieved through very traditional songwriting tactics that manifest in all of the instruments. The bass only uses root position harmonizations unless there's a little fill to be had. The vocals, which I think are at least surprisingly precocious in the lead, have really cheesy background harmonizations only one step above having a "whoa-oh" or "na na na" in a pop punk song. The guitar too can be cheesy, but in a more hair metal way. I can imagine Dustin and Teppei leaning back to back with giant hair and tight pants playing the unison solos on "T&C" and the intro of "Freedom." It's good as a catchy gimmick, but beyond that, it really cloys. There are a lot of cheap songwriting tricks to make the songs catchy, which is a lot less insightful and original than Thrice's newer ways of trapping a listeners attention.

However, as much as I've been ripping on the album, I'm ignoring one crucial element; this album is in fact catchy, and is really fun and awesome. These 7 songs could hold their own against most other skate punk or melodic hardcore I've heard. It's energetic, youthful, melodic, and technically beyond most of songs of the same ilk. It's not as brilliant as Thrice's newer material, duh, but viewed outside of the giant shadow Thrice has cast with their last 4 LPs, it's still a good album. The band might say otherwise because they are notoriously embarassed by this EP, but I think there's a lot of good here for all of the clich�d or hackneyed moments. It was not meant to be listened to as "high art" or anything like that. It's just a first stab at writing compelling, technical music, which is what Thrice has been excelling at for the past 7 or 8 years. Rarely can bands begin with a perfect jump start, and this rough hewn EP provides a lovable, fun introduction to Thrice's career.

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user ratings (126)

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 15th 2006


[quote=review]Straight up, Thrice is my favorite band.[/quote]
I love you.

Storm In A Teacup
June 15th 2006


A day after I requested this of you. Haha, but obviously you've already been working on it.

Seriously though, you're a brilliant writer.

Edit: Almost forgot to mention this.

[quote=]but they make an incredibly challenging and successful album every time they.[/quote]Not completed. How dare you not be perfect. :mad:This Message Edited On 06.15.06

June 15th 2006


Better Days is actually probably one of my favourite Thrice songs... Although that may be because I haven't heard it a whole bunch (catchy stuff tends to get on my nerves after a while). I wish I had this EP...

Anyway, great review.

June 16th 2006


goood review man

ive been meaning to listen tot more than jsut TAITA, but i wouldnt know where to start
any suggestions?

June 16th 2006


Vheissu. Everyone seems to love Illusion of Safety, but I just don't love it as much as them. I think it's really good, just not as good as Vheissu IMO.

June 16th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

Thursday, ya about that, don't listen to Hat. IOS and TAITA are musically the two most similar albums Thrice have put out.

June 27th 2006


Here's a link to the album art:

June 27th 2006


It's a tough one, but I think Vheissu sounds closer to Artist than IOS does.

June 27th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

Thanks wordsaredead. I shoulda guessed it'd be at

I do not agree with ya cb. I feel like IOS and TAITA are almost twin albums like Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness or something.

June 27th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

It's fun to chart the progression of Thrice's style using this, but it's not something to

listen to consistently.This Message Edited On 06.27.06

July 24th 2006


Album Rating: 3.0

Haha, I was wondering when someone would review/"discover" this. I've had it for a while, and it's about as sloppy and un-Thrice as Thrice gets (when compared to their newer stuff), but Opaque, (electric and acoustic), T&C, and Better Days fucking ROCK and that's the bottom line cuz Stone Cold said so. Worth a download if you can find it. 3/5

DFelon, what movie did the quote from "Better Days" come from?

August 16th 2006


thrice is my favorite band too. actually I listen to them too much, and I'm trying to not listen to them as much cause I could be listening to new bands that I've been meaning to check out.

anyway I think FI is pretty good for what it is, their first EP. The production is what I hate about it though. The songs themselves have a lot potential. Just listen to the FI version of T&C and the IC version. It's 1000 times better. I think it would be cool if they re-recorded FI. The production would be a lot better and Dustin's voice and their overall talent as a band has improved so much since then. It could be a legitimate release, but obviously they would never re-release it. They won't even play anything from IC live.

btw the acoustic version of opaque at the very end is awesome.

January 14th 2007


Album Rating: 2.5

they play "to what end" live sometimes i beleive

February 3rd 2008


Bad review. Nearly half of it is about Thrice's other albums, and their evolution, which begins after their first EP. When you review something, and if you are going to compare it to something else, you should do so with what has already been done by the artist, not with what will be done. But it is best merely to review it for what it is, not how it stands with their other albums (which were not yet concieved when this EP was released.)

July 14th 2009


Hey does anyone have a link to download this? I can't find it anywhere.

September 9th 2011


Album Rating: 2.0

This was the first thrice i heard.

August 13th 2014


Dat DBZ sample though. Definitely not the best Thrice, but I can't help but find it endearing.

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