Thrice - The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water
Record Label: Vagrant Records
Release Date: October 16, 2007
I can honestly say I have never been as excited for an album as I was for Thrice’s newest release The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II, a compelling concept album based on the two elements of fire and water.
The Orange County based band, with lead vocalist/guitarist Dustin Kensrue, brothers Ed and Riley Breckenridge on bass and drums, respectively, and lead guitarist Teppei Teranishi, have released four full-lengths previous to The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II. Thrice display some of the best music I have heard in a long time with this astounding two-disc concept release. The first record, entitled Fire, is a masterfully executed album that doesn’t rely on high-pitched screaming and guitar-licks for power, but instead replaces them with depth and solidarity, a decision that allows the audience to slip into the pages of the lyric booklet and follow Thrice through their epic journey between fire and water.
The album opens with “Firebreather,” a song that starts with ominous sirens and then attacks with heavy, Muse-like guitars, an utterly perfect opening to the heavy first disc. “Firebreather” floods into “The Messenger,” another hard-hitting song that showcases moody synthesizers and the first appearance of the deep, guttural screaming that has made Kensrue famous.
The truth is, from the guitars, to the vocals, to the drums, every single song on this disc is a solid deliverance of songwriting and musicianship that embodies a deep intensity. From the shapely “The Arsonist,” which features snake-like guitar lines and static-engrossed vocals, to the smooth “Burn the Fleet,” a delicate yet triumphant song focused on light guitar and vocal melodies, every song has its own identity. However, through the concept of fire, the record can be understood as a whole, as a fire that breathes, burns, smokes, and finally dies out in the final track, “The Flame Deluge.” The song leaves Kensrue’s vocals barely audible beneath the arena-filling synthesizers and drums, a church-like hymn encased in power.
Though Fire left me awestruck, Water left me breathless.
Water is a record characterized by electronics and soft vocals, elements that a few years ago would be unheard of coming from Thrice. However, as an evolving band, Thrice is not hesitant to let these genre-splitting influences slip onto the record.
The first song on Water is Thrice’s first single entitled “Digital Sea,” which marks a complete change from Fire. Pervaded by peace, the song evokes a calmness that is as equally compelling as it is soothing. With Kensrue’s vocals seemingly slipping beneath the surface of the water, the music takes a turn from audible to visual, grasping the reader with its imagery, a common characteristic throughout the album. In The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water, Kensrue has continued his career as a storyteller, this time spinning tales of whalers (“The Whaler”) and burning cities (“The Arsonist”) while using his vast knowledge of philosophy and history in his references to Davy Jones and Descartes. “Night Diving,” is an exceptional instrumental track that shifts from soft to heavy, while “Open Water” shows hints of Explosions in the Sky.
With The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water, Thrice translates the elements of fire and water into music perfectly through the culmination of thought, power, and self-production. Though many bands before have failed to deliver quality concept albums, Thrice have successfully used a hands-on approach to writing and producing their music, which in turn has birthed a record that is the best of the band's career, and a release that is bound to be ranked highly on 2007's "must own” list.
Very rarely do I agree on such a generic and often universal complaint but, yes, that rating is too high for me to accept. Thrice's best works are Artist and Vheissu and those reach low to mid 90s as far as I'm concerned. And, in coherence with those albums, the vocals, lyrics, and muscianship all fall short.
97%'s are for Daydream Nation, OK Computer and Sgt. Peppers.
Stale argument? I think we're getting there.
97%'s are for what people consciously decide are worthy. Any lone album can exceed those three in such areas as vocals, lyrics, and muscianship without slipping into a proverbial type of significance. Often times (like in the case of Blink 182's Enema of the State), a catalyst album isn't especially impressive as far as tangible weight goes, with the vocals, lyrics, and musicianship perhaps not setting any gold standard, so the rating wouldn't reflect its importance.
Yes, I understand this approach and also agree that the album in question is an above average work but falls short of greatness (I'd say about 81%-86%). But, even though I don't consider any of Thrice's album (with a slight exception of Vheissu) to be masterpiece material, I can honestly say that my view of TREOS' Between the Heart and the Synapse is exactly that: masterfully executed work of art, worthy of 97+ ratings. With that said, it is not the work of a world-famous band and therefore does not historically rank with the three mentioned.
Steps behind BTHATS, I can also promote such albums as Futures, Good Apollo Volume I, and Act II: The Meaning of, and All Thing Regarding Ms. Leading as masterpieces that could push the ever-too-mentioned 97%.
Also the review is okay but you don't seem well informed about the genres Thrice has moved into.
As in you failed to mention Radiohead, Massive Attack or Isis which is pretty much a joke considering how this sounds and who they have said themsevles influences them.
Do more research and don't go so overboard with ratings.
I have listened to Isis, and although I do agree that Isis a big influence on Thrice, in my opinion this album didn't sound like Isis. As for Radiohead, I own pretty much every single album. I wrote a review on In Rainbows for this site. I did have a Radiohead comparison in here, but took it out.