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We Are Beggars All: My Top 50 Thrice Songs

Thrice has been one of my favorite bands for many years, and they are one of the few bands that I listened to when I was younger that I still listen to regularly today. Perhaps it is because the band has evolved in the same way that my own musical tastes have. Regardless, with the release of To Be Everywhere Is To be Nowhere this year, I thought that it would be worthwhile to revisit the band's entire back catalog and to try to make sense of how all of their best songs compared to one another and to see why the resonated with me over the years. This list is the result of that effort. I tried to view the band's career as holistically as possible, though some biases toward the band's mid-to-late career do show through. Thanks for reading, if you do! DISCLAIMER: This is not designed to be a definitive list or to close the conversation on these songs (I doubt there will be too many surprises anyway, especially amongst the top 25). I am sure there are some songs that people might love that are missing, and I am happy to discuss differing opinions in the comments. Ultimately, this list was simply a personal project to try to better understand one of my favorite artists.
The Illusion of Safety

50. The Red Death

I never really cared much for this song until recently. The impressive riffs are certainly evident, but I never really realized how fun and melodic this song was until I revisited this album for this list. A good representation of the band’s early energy.

49. Wood and Wire

This song can drag a little bit, but “Wood and Wire” has a really cool atmosphere that is anchored by Teppei’s Rhodes piano playing and ebbing guitar swells. The musical crescendo also matches the lyrical theme (a prisoner soberly facing his execution), which is a nice touch.
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

48. Salt and Shadow

Another slow but pretty song. This song off of the new album doesn’t really sound like anything else in the band’s discography (though some moments seem to draw from the Water disc of the Alchemy Index), but the imagery in the lyrics is evocative, and the piano callback to “Hurricane” at the song’s conclusion give the album a sense of completion/circularity.
Identity Crisis

47. Phoenix Ignition

Admittedly, Identity Crisis sounds rather sophomoric compared to Thrice’s later works, but some tracks still resonate all these years later. This fan favorite is one of those tracks, and its memorable melodic punk melody and metal-inspiring riffs offer a good preview of what the band would do much better on The Illusion of Safety.
The Artist in the Ambulance

46. Cold Cash and Colder Hearts

The Artist in the Ambulance has, by far, been my least played Thrice record over the last 10 years (I think I burned myself out listening to it so much in high school), so it was interesting to revisit it for this list to see how it compared to other albums. “Cold Cash and Colder Hearts” is a good example of the album’s punishing (yet melodic) post-hardcore sound, as it starts off the album with a strong sense of immediacy that reflects the song’s lyrical theme of greed.
The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II

45. Burn the Fleet

Out of all of the songs on the Fire disc of the Alchemy Index, “Burn the Fleet” takes the least aggressive approach to the fire theme, but the result is a well-composed, melodic song with richly arpeggiated guitar chords and a great balance between the quieter verses and the more explosive choruses.
The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV

44. The Sky is Falling

The Air disc of the Alchemy Index, in my mind, offers the tightest, most experimental collection of songs out of the whole project. “The Sky is Falling” has a lot of really interesting musical moments that reflect the “Air” theme well (the dreamy keyboard in the verses, unsettling saxophone bursts, the choppy, electronic bridge section, etc.). The lyrics about the hypocrisy of jingoism also are still quite relevant and powerful considering all that is currently going on in the world.
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

43. Death from Above

One of my favorite things about the new album is how it blends the angular riffing and post-hardcore leanings of the band’s early days with the more mature songwriting chops of their later years. “Death from Above,” which clearly takes a critical stance against drone warfare, is a good example of this combination: the undulating riffs in the quiet verses and the aggressively shifting time signatures of the chorus give way to a satisfying melodic/atmospheric ending section.
The Illusion of Safety

42. Trust

“Trust” is still one of the more memorable songs off of The Illusion of Safety, and it is one of the first of one of Dustin’s many songs about his marriage. “Trust” also was Thrice’s first real foray into slower and more dynamic songs. While the band would become more adept at writing these songs down the road, the song still has plenty going for it: the glistening guitar in the verses adds to the emotional impact of the lyrics before the song gets heavier, and the steady 3/4 time signature (which is rare for the band, even to this day) gives the song a nice rhythmic fluidity.

41. Beggars

This song is a slow burner for sure. While boasts a simple structure that never really builds to the kinds of crushing crescendos that characterize a lot of Thrice’s best songs, a patient listener will find that each verse section incrementally evolves from a musical standpoint while allowing a lot of breathing room for the lyrics about earthly pride and avarice, which are some of Dustin’ best.

40. Doublespeak

“Doublespeak” is somewhat of an anomaly in Thrice’s catalog, as it sounds like it would be more at home on an Adult Alternative station than alongside the band’s other tracks. Regardless, it is still a damn good song: the punchy, piano-driven track features some of Dustin’s most soulful singing and it is certainly one of the band’s most solid (albeit traditional) songs from an arrangement standpoint.

39. Blinded

“Blinded” is one of a few grungy rock songs on Major/Minor, and while it doesn’t really have any standout moments, it is a solid song with plenty of good rock riffs and a catchy melody. Not really much else to say about this one, but I like it nonetheless.

38. Image of the Invisible

The first of six Vheissu tracks on this list, and it is the song that gave most long-time Thrice fans their first taste of the band’s more experimental phase. The song has plenty of strong moments, including the call-and-response vocals and technical percussion of the verses that lead into a melodic half-time chorus, as well as a slowly-building bridge section. Though there are other tracks off of this album that stand out more, this song was the closest thing this album had to a radio-friendly single while still featuring some unique ideas.
The Illusion of Safety

37. So Strange I Remember You

Speaking of experimental, “So Strange I Remember You” is structurally the most complex track on The Illusion of Safety with its myriad sections, from the beautiful guitar introduction and the melodic hardcore of the first half of the song to the almost Middle Eastern-sounding section that leads into a riff-driven finale. It was one of my favorites when I first heard this album, and I still enjoy it to this day.
The Artist in the Ambulance

36. Paper Tigers

By the far the most crushing song on The Artist in the Ambulance, but it also has a really cool ambiance that permeates the entire track, including a monster bass line. It’s not the most dynamic song in the world, but it’s a straight-up ass kicker.
Red Sky

35. Flags of Dawn

Vheissu is such a strong album that even its B-sides are great, which is the case with “Flags of Dawn.” This slower, atmospheric number that boasts some nice keyboards and that builds to a rousing conclusion could easily have been at home on Vheissu, but luckily, it still found its way onto the Red Sky EP.
The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II

34. Night Diving

One of Thrice’s few instrumental tracks, but it is strong enough to merit a spot on this list. It’s saturated atmosphere perfectly fits the Water theme of its respective Alchemy Index disc, and it is buoyed by a droning groove in the vein of Isis or Pelican. Perfect song for late night driving (or diving, I suppose).
The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II

33. The Messenger

This one is another ass kicker. This Alchemy Index song is short, choppy, and in your face, which is all one can really ask for with a song like this, which is why it has become quite common at Thrice’s live shows.

32. Blur

“Blur” is an interesting song: it is a fast, aggressive track that harkens back to Thrice’s early days, but it also boasts jazz-influenced guitar chords and polyrhythmic drumming that adds another dimension to the overall sonic palette. Considering that Major/Minor is mostly a mid-tempo affair, this track adds some needed energy to the track list.
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

31. Blood on the Sand

It seemed like a lot of Thrice fans were not really too jazzed about this song when it first premiered, as it is not exactly “For Miles” or “To Awake and Avenge the Dead.” However, looking past all that, I think this is still a solid (albeit conventional) track with some fun riffs and catchy melodies (and some great vocal chops from Kensure), and it works well as To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere’s single-styled track. It’s hard not to sing along when this one comes on.
Identity Crisis

30. T & C

“T & C” goes all the way back to the largely-forgotten First Impressions EP, though the Identity Crisis version is far superior. This track draws much of its influence from metal, and it is the only track in Thrice’s discography that features bonafide guitar solos. It’s the high watermark for a very young Thrice, and even though it is a bit raw, it still holds up well today.

29. Promises

Another straight up rock song from Major/Minor, though this one is one of the tightest on the album. Dustin gives an impassioned vocal performance about the state of modern marriage with a solid instrumental backdrop. Many of the same comments from “Blinded” apply here, though this one rocks a bit harder.
The Artist in the Ambulance

28. The Artist in the Ambulance

Probably Thrice’s closest thing to a crossover hit back in their major label era. It’s somewhat saccharine for my tastes these days, but I used to jam this song all the time when I was a teenager, and it does a good job of coating Thrice’s heavier vibe with a pop sheen. It’s also the one Thrice song I played to my wife that she didn’t completely despise, so that’s something I guess?

27. The Weight

Beggars is also not really a go-to Thrice album for me, but every time I listen to it, my appreciation for it grows. In particular, I have been appreciating the album’s grooves more and more, and this song has plenty of them. There is a lot of effortless instrumental interplay here as well, which is one of the most noticeable things about Thrice’s later career in my eyes.
The Illusion of Safety

26. Kill Me Quickly

Thrice wasted no time setting the tone of The Illusion of Safety with this track, as an ugly, dissonant riff leads into a great balance of aggression and melody that characterized the entire album. The tension that starts building in the bridge section all the way to the end shows that the band really was getting the hang of using tight grooves and shifting dynamics to great effect.
The Illusion of Safety

25. Betrayal is a Symptom

This was another song that took me quite a while to warm up to, but it has been one of my favorites off of The Illusion of Safety for the last few years now. From the droning bass and drum introduction to the catchy-as-hell choruses to the endless awesome riffs, there is plenty to love here.
The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV

24. Daedalus

I can never decide whether I find this song to drag on a little too long for my tastes, but two things are for certain: 1. The lyrics in this song are fantastic (writing a song from Daedalus’s point of view was genius). 2. Instrumentally, this song has a great dynamic range (the reverb-drenched guitars in the verses and the slow-grooving bass of the bridge are two highlights for me), and like many great later-period Thrice songs, the arrangement takes you on quite a journey.

23. Disarmed

This is another song that takes its time getting to where it has to go, but everything from 3:00 to the end is downright gorgeous. Sometimes Thrice’s best moments are their simplest, and the ethereal closing stanza of this song is a prime example.
The Artist in the Ambulance

22. Silhouette

Pulsating post-hardcore grooves + a spacey atmosphere that gives the entire track a hazy overlay = classic Thrice song. There’s a good reason this one has been in Thrice’s live show for so long.

21. Atlantic

“Atlantic” was by far the quietest and most delicate songs that Thrice had released up until that point, and it’s still a pretty number. It doesn’t have the same emotional heft as “Red Sky” from the same album, but the shimmering number still ebbs and flows wonderfully as Riley keeps it all anchored with his tastefully dynamic rhythms.
The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV

20. Come All You Weary

This is one of the only songs that really stuck out to me from the Earth disc of The Alchemy Index, as it has a grandiose folk/country soul that is patiently developed through the song’s simple, minor-key arrangement. The choruses are particularly powerful here with Dustin’s expressive crooning and the haunting organ backdrop.
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

19. Stay with Me

“Stay with Me” feels unabashedly mainstream, sounding more like U2 than a post-hardcore band with its soaring, echo-heavy guitar leads and massive choruses. But there’s no denying that this song is extremely well-crafted from both a lyrical and instrumental standpoint; in particular, Dustin’s poetic words about companionship and commitment really resonate with me because of my own experiences navigating the winding roads of a long-term relationship.
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

18. Black Honey

This track is a sludgy, grooving hard rock song with some pointed political metaphors. Dustin’s voice sounds absolutely monstrous on this song, especially in the bridge section when it harmonizes against Teppei’s buzzsaw guitar lead, which is one of my favorite moments on the entire new album.

17. Of Dust and Nations

A quintessential song within Thrice’s ambient post-hardcore phase. While the entire band creates a great atmosphere with a lot of space and flow, it is really Teppei’s urgent guitar riffs, flooded with reverb and delay, that make “Of Dust and Nations” soar.

16. Circles

Hopefully it is obvious by now that I appreciate Thrice’s quieter songs just as much as their more aggressive ones. “Circles” is a simple but moving track from Beggars that develops a foggy and melancholic atmosphere through the muddled electric keyboard and tastefully saturated vocals, which makes it a great song for a rainy, reflective day.
The Illusion of Safety

15. Deadbolt

In contrast to “Circles,” “Deadbolt” doesn’t even sound like it was written by the same band, which is one of the most enjoyable aspects of journeying through Thrice’s entire catalog. There is not much to be said about this song that hasn’t already been said; it is one of Thrice’s most popular songs, and its riffs still hit hard. That being said, I don’t find it to be as momentous of a song now as I did when I was younger, but it still holds a place in my heart.

14. The Earth Will Shake

Another great Vheissu track that is quite complex: Not only does it feature droning ambient grooves, seamlessly shifting time signatures, and brutal vocals, but it even throws in some sultry organ chords and chain-gang vocals to add further to the incarceration-themed lyrics. It is a raw, dark song with an expertly-crafted atmosphere.

13. Anthology

A lot of Thrice’s later songs are characterized by the muddy tones from Teppei’s baritone guitar, but “Anthology” is full of light, crisp leads that make this song shine. The best part of the song, however, is Dustin’s many lyrical “easter eggs” to longtime fans, as he artfully chronicles many of the past songs he wrote about his wife, from “Trust” to “The Weight,” in an attempt to bring his reflections full circle. Thrice may have more interesting or complicated songs, but this one is simply enjoyable.
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

12. Hurricane

The opening track from the new album is yet another study in contrasts for the band, with light, delicately arranged verses that give way to explosive half-time choruses. However, its best moment comes as it suddenly shifts into a minor key around the 3:50 mark with droning chords and tenser leads, which seems to be a good musical representation of the oncoming storm.
The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II

11. Firebreather

The thunderous gang vocals at the end of this song are clearly a highlight, but “Firebreather” also gets The Alchemy Index kicked off in the right way with its smoldering drop-A guitar leads and distorted bass lines. As a whole, The Alchemy Index honestly was a little bloated, but when a song clicked with the elemental theme like this one did, the result was deeply satisfying.
The Artist in the Ambulance

10. All that’s Left

The Artist in the Ambulance had some of Thrice’s heaviest moments (“Paper Tigers,” “The Abolition of Man”) as well as some of their most harmonious (this track, “The Artist in the Ambulance”), which is why it is such a compelling listen. “All that’s Left” starts off with that instantly recognizable drum beat and guitar riff, and for its next three or so minutes, then blends the light and dark by throwing some great melodies on top of a fast and energetic instrumental framework. One of the absolute best singalong Thrice tracks.
The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV

9. Broken Lungs

From a composition standpoint, “Broken Lungs” is a meticulously arranged track that feels absolutely effortless. I love its warm tones and restrained instrumental layers. It’s also got all of the workings of a great later-period Thrice song: purposeful lyrics about the post-9/11 landscape, a smooth but grooving rhythm section, and just the right touch of aggression at the very end.
The Artist in the Ambulance

8. Stare at the Sun

Another song that has an almost immediately recognizable introduction if you are a Thrice fan, as swelling harmonized guitars suddenly are interrupted by one of Ed’s coolest bass runs in the band’s catalog. It’s a fantastically energetic track with a lot of heart, which is probably why it made such a strong impression on my adolescent brain back when I first heard it.
The Illusion of Safety

7. To Awake and Avenge the Dead

Has there ever been a list of best Thrice songs that was missing this track? I would be shocked if so. It has some of the best riffs in any Thrice song that are backed by Riley’s unrelenting drumming and Dustin’s snarling vocals. It’s also safe to say that the ending breakdown puts live crowds into an absolute frenzy, which I can attest to from personal experience. I don’t gravitate to their older/heavier stuff as much anymore, but this song still stands out amongst the very best of early Thrice.
To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere

6. The Long Defeat

It’s hard for me to say at this point how I’m going to feel about songs from the new album a year from now, let alone 10-15 years (as is the case with many of the songs on this list). But from the relatively small time I’ve spent with To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere, this song has quickly emerged as my favorite. It is melodic, dynamic, and stirring, especially as it fades into ambient darkness. A minimalist masterwork.

5. Red Sky

Believe it or not, this song was ranked much lower for me for quite some time, but I guess I’ve come back around with it. The moody atmosphere created throughout the entire of the song is quite powerful, but for me, the real jaw-dropping moment comes at around the 3:10 mark when the song bursts open with what very well may be the band’s most emotive instrumentals.

4. In Exile

My favorite of Thrice's mid-tempo alt rocks songs. Though the lyrics have a clear Christian undercurrent (like most of Kensure's lyrics), they also can be interpreted as a pragmatic view of a band's life on the road. Either way, the song ebbs and flows with purpose.

3. Words in the Water

There’s no two ways around it: many of Thrice’s slower songs require patience. After some ambience, “Words in the Water” starts off with a simple guitar lead and a quiet accented drum line, but over the next 4-5 minutes, the song gradually builds in some incredible ways, including an extremely rewarding major-key shift toward the end of the song. This is the kind of song that only a band that has been playing and growing together for years can write and pull off.

2. For Miles

Hearing “For Miles” for the first time in 2005 was a revelation for me. Up until that point, my musical tastes didn’t really venture too far out of a certain pop-punk/post-hardcore/metalcore comfort zone, but “For Miles” in particular changed all that. Hearing a song with such incredible dynamics and craft (and soul!), from the solemn opening piano to line to the swirling ambiance of the bridge and the pulverizing coda, challenged me to seek out all different kinds of music experiences. Perhaps that all sounds a little hyperbolic, but “For Miles” is about as perfect of an experimental post-hardcore track as you can get, and it clearly made a lasting impression on me.
The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II

1. The Whaler

“The Whaler” has, without a doubt, remained unchallenged as my favorite Thrice song ever since I first experienced it; it is one of the most hauntingly beautiful songs that I have ever heard. The principle metaphor of the whaler, whom is torn between leaving his family and soberly knowing he must providing for them, is a painfully realistic conceit that only gets more relatable to me as I get closer to having my own family. The spartan musical backdrop is also perfect for letting the emotion of the lyrics land, as the murky keyboard chords are coldly accented by the pulsating electronic beat in a slightly jarring 5/4 signature. In some regards, it may be one of the least “Thrice-like” songs on the whole list, but it shares the deeply poignant core that sets apart their very best.
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