Thrice - The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV: Air & Earth
Record Label: Vagrant Records
Release Date: April 15, 2008
After six full-length albums and five EP releases, Thrice remain one of the most pivotal and influential bands that a lot of people have yet to discover. With their newest release, The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV: Air & Earth, they continue to impress many with their ability and goals to progress, while maintaining the fan base they have accumulated over the past nine years.
The Alchemy Index was a project drawn up in late 2006 with the intention of exploring sounds that the band has brushed on, but has yet to explore. The ‘index’ is made up of four elements: fire, water, air, and earth, each with a six-song EP that encompasses and represents each element.
Air is the third volume of The Alchemy Index, exploring a more ambient side of Thrice. The EP begins with “Broken Lungs,” a song that could have been found anywhere on 2005’s Vheissu. Vocalist Dustin Kensrue demonstrates his vocal talent on the bridge, transitioning from screams to a falsetto in a matter of seconds.
Air’s most notable experiments include “The Sky is Falling,” which shows Thrice implementing distorted vocals and a distinct rhythm section, complete with handclaps and drum machines. At the same time, there are much simpler songs like “A Song for Milly Michaelson,” which exudes balladry over lush guitar sounds.
Of all the EPs from the project, Air is the most diverse and impressive release, as every track is one of Thrice’s best. the only real complaint with the EP is that “Silver Wings” is only two minutes long, because it's one of the most beautiful works on record.
Earth is the fourth and final installment of The Alchemy Index, and it takes on blues and folk influences. On “Moving Mountains,” Kensrue wails “I don’t know the first thing about love,” which is very reminiscent for the brand of folk rock played by classic artists like Bob Dylan.
“Come All You Weary” is a true gem on this EP and it’s the only song on the EP that uses the standard drum set. “The Earth Isn’t Humming,” a song originally by Frodus, is the first song that Thrice have ever covered and officially released on an album.
The most unique fact about Earth is that it is composed completely by acoustic instruments. The overall sound of Earth is very similar to Kensrue’s 2007 solo album, Please Come Home. Despite the heavy similarities, Thrice have managed to achieve a more complete and cohesive sound, thanks to brothers Riley and Eddie Breckenridge on drums and bass respectively, along with guitarist Teppei Teranishi.
The biggest advantage of having four different sounds is that there is something here for everyone. The EPs are a good exposé of Thrice’s most polarizing sounds, from their softest to the heaviest.
However, the biggest disadvantage of The Alchemy Index is that the final product can be a little intimidating. It is by no means an easy listen, due to four completely different sounds, and a total of 24 songs. Due to this, Thrice truly shine in their ability to make records, and will hopefully continue to release albums such as Vheissu in the future.
Thrice are a group that doesn’t seem to be intimidated by the pressures of progression. There are very few bands who could successfully execute a project of this magnitude. At times, it seems overzealous and pretentious, but the end result is far better than most expected.
I didn't know what to think when I heard this CD, I thought it was a totally new and yet brilliant concept for Thrice, especially "air". I wonder if the members of the band went through something in their lives which inspired them. good review though!