Music Over Time – Thrice Edition

ThriceDespite the title this is not an ongoing theme… just a clever title that popped into my head, ha.

Earlier this month Thrice’s new CD, Major/Minor, came out. Before I begin talking about *any* of this, I will say the CD is fantastic, and you should buy it regardless of if you are a fan of their earlier work. It is quite possibly their best album to date. Now on to the good stuff.

While Brandon and I were discussing Thrice’s new album the other day, I realized I have been listening to the band for ten years now, about how long the band has been around. Thrice is known for their vastly diverse sound on each album, with no two albums sounding alike. Thrice’s sound has changed so drastically over the years that they have gone from being a Post-Hardcore band, to an almost “Experimental Post-Rock” band. I first heard their music when I was in high school, a little while after the release of their debut album, Identity Crisis. With their first album Thrice was easily “classified” as a Post-Hardcore/Melodic Hardcore group, with a very punk sound and stressed, screaming vocals.

At the time, this was the style of music I was very much into. I had just gotten into Tool, as well, the year before, so my music tastes were nestled somewhere directly between “angry driving Rock/Metal” and, well, “angry driving Punk/Hardcore.” It worked for me at the time. Tool, System Of A Down, Thrice, From Autumn To Ashes… etc. Then Thrice’s next album, and possibly my favorite album of theirs, came out – The Illusion of Safety.

The Illusion of Safety, while sounding similar to Identity Crisis, is much more impressive of an album. The songs have a lot more range of emotion, and the music has definitely matured. Just from listening to the album, you get a sense that the band learned a lot after the release of Identity Crisis and worked very hard to show it in the follow-up album. Deadbolt and The Beltsville Crucible are absolutely brilliant for the genre of music that they are, with the piano outro to Deadbolt showcasing a much darker tone to this album overall. At the time, this album again followed along with my taste in music closely, pinpointing a darkness I was feeling at the time (ah, angsty teenagers), while still sliding into that post-hardcore sound I was really enjoying at the time.

And then there was my senior year in high school, and then the album The Artist In The Ambulance. TAITA came out while I was actually in Europe (long story) so I picked up the album when I got home in August. The album again was very different, with a much richer sound than the last. Many of the songs seemed to drift almost entirely away from the Post-Hardcore sound entirely, hitting a more Hard Rock vibe. Yet the album overall was still influenced heavily by that screaming vocal style and driving guitar riffs. At the time, I was getting ready to go to college and start a new chapter in my life (one that would change my life significantly for the better) and this album struck home for me. It spoke to me of change as well, and it’s an idea I clung to. This remained my favorite album for my entire freshman year of college.

Then in 2005, Vheissu came out. This album is perhaps my least favorite album (though I by no means dislike it) of Thrice’s. It is also Thrice’s first album that delves into Experimental Rock. The album is by no means bad, as I said, I just didn’t feel as strong of a connection to it as I did (and do) to the rest of the albums. Vheissu did, however, come out at a time where I was beginning to get heavily into Philosophy studies and was very much into experimental music, so it fit in well with the other bands and albums I was listening to at the time. I gave it quite a few good listens, and enjoyed it immensely for its almost “randomness” at the time.

Then, as I was entering my final year of college, The Alchemy Index (Vols. I & II and Vols. III & IV) came out. Immediately I was struck dumb by the album, before I even heard the songs. The theme alone of the album, a mini-album for each of the four elements, played perfectly with how I thinking at the time. I was exploring a lot of my personal beliefs at the time and nature and alchemy were playing heavily into that exploration. This album, spaced between October 2007 and April 2008 fit perfectly into that. And the album itself is beautiful. Each mini-album captures the element it is trying to portray perfectly. When listening to Fire, you feel the heat of an inferno wrapping around you. When listening to Water, you feel the gentle waves lapping against you… as if floating on an ocean. With Earth, you feel the strength of mountains resonating, and the folksy/acoustic sound really strikes deep into the soul. And Air has this ethereal “Art Rock” sound that really floats through you… perfect for its name. The two-part album is considered by many to be the band’s greatest effort to date, and also seems to chronicle the band’s evolution as well, with Fire being a much harder sound, and each album representing a change in the band, with Earth and Air sounding much more like the band’s most recent efforts.

Then, in 2009, Thrice released Beggars. Beggars was a massive change, with a much more Indie/Blues/Rock sound than their previous albums, much like Earth and Air of The Alchemy Index. The album came out in a time where I was trying to work my way through life, aiming to put in a hard days (or nights, as the case was) work, come home, and relax. The album spoke volumes to me in this sense, and at the time, I was listening to *a lot* of blues… so it fit right in. Beggars also came as a bit of a surprise. At the time I was listening to a lot of older music. I had been ignoring new releases and new bands for about a year at the time, so when Beggars came out I almost missed it. Right around the release date I happened to be at the mall and noticed the new album and picked it up. I could also blame this album for my journey back to newer artists and music. All I can really say is that Beggars really hit home for me at the time, and I’m glad I found it when I did…

Enter 2011, and Major/Minor. Major/Minor is the exception to the rule. With a history of changing their sound drastically from album to album, Thrice really threw their fans for a loop with Major/Minor, which sounds like a much more polished, meaningful Beggars. A fantastic album, and (for me) their best since The Illusion of Safety, Major/Minor really tells a story I can relate to. At this point in my life I’m changing direction and trying to get onto the track that I’ve wanted to be on all along, as a writer… and other things. This album really just infiltrated my soul. And again, I found out about the album on its release day… I hadn’t been paying attention and didn’t even know the band was putting out a new album.

I find it fascinating that as my taste in music has changed over the years, Thrice has been right there beside it. I’m sure many people who grew up with The Beatles or The Who, both of whom had drastic sound changes over the years, could say similar things… but to me it’s nice to know that there is something I could always relate to at every changing point in my life.

And to wrap all this nonsense up, here’s a song from the new album, Words In The Water… enjoy.


About Ian E. Muller

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