Thrice – Vheissu
Record Label: Island Records
Release Date: October 18 2005
I remember when Thrice announced their hiatus in 2012. My world stopped for a brief moment, because one of my favorite bands broke up. It was a horrible experience that I wish I would never have to go through again. Okay, I’m just exaggerating a bit, but in all seriousness, Thrice announcing their hiatus in 2012 was a very heartbreaking thing to see. On one hand, it was hard seeing a band that you’ve been influenced by finally go (I felt the same way about Underoath later that year), but it’s also hard seeing a truly great band go as well, even if you were never a fan. Regardless, the band’s records and their memory will always live in, even if they never choose to come back. That’s especially good for me, because there are a few records I haven’t heard by Thrice, one of which being 2005’s Vheissu (pronounced “vee-soo”). I’ve heard, and love, the record before it, 2003’s The Artist In the Ambulance. That record really helped to solidify Thrice as being a post-hardcore that’s never going anywhere, but Vheissu was quite different. While The Artist In the Ambulance was a very straightforward post-hardcore record, Vheissu morphed the band into the post-rock, indie, experimental, and post-hardcore powerhouse they are today. A lot of experimental and post-rock influences thrive on this record, but they are absolutely beautiful. This record shows a lot more of the “melodic” side of the band, and as someone who enjoys a lot more “soft” music now, rather than a few years ago, I definitely can appreciate an album like this. Thrice is definitely one of those few bands that can do a 180 and release an experimental record a couple years after releasing a post-hardcore album that’s become a staple in the genre, much like Underoath’s They’re Only Chasing Safety. Vheissu is a much more laidback and atmospheric record, which I absolutely love about it. There are a lot of heavy moments, but overall, it was a huge improvement of the band at the time. Since then, they’ve expanded on their post-rock/experimental sounds, and every record since has included a lot of progressive influences.
Right from the beginning of opening track, “Image of the Invisible,” this progression is insanely noticeable, but that’s not a bad thing. This record is definitely a stark contrast from The Artist In the Ambulance, but it’s not totally thrown out. There are some heavier moments on the record, but they’re sprinkled throughout. Something really interesting that also starts off the record is that there’s a bit of Morse code in the beginning and it actually spells out the name of the album. It’s not really an important part of the record, it’s just rather cool. The song itself is quite great, though. Vocalist Dustin Kensrue is wonderful, and he employs a lot more clean vocals on this album (which is something he does throughout the rest of the band’s records). He did a bit on the band’s previous records, but they were mainly post-hardcore, and so his harsh vocals took over. Here, on the other hand, his cleans take over, and I like them a lot. His screams are awesome and ferocious, but his cleans help to bring some variety. The main and only complaint I have with this album is one that I also had about The Artist In the Ambulance, which is that despite how awesome their sound is (or was), the songs tended to sound quite similar and run together. The same kind of happens on this album, too. There are some very memorable tracks, such as the opener, and second track “Between the End and Where We Lie.” But some tracks fade into the background, not because they’re bad songs, but because they’re overshadowed by others. The middle of the record where this is most notable, with the exception of fourth track “Atlantic.” This is one of my favorite tracks on the record, if not my favorite. It’s a really chilled out track that shows off the band’s talent, really. The instrumentation is great, and compliments with Kensrue’s vocals and lyrics.
While the middle of the record doesn’t really do much for me, the beginning, and the end of the record are fantastic. The first couple of songs are awesome, and the last few are great, too, specifically tenth and eleventh tracks “Stand and Feel Your Worth” and “Red Sky.” The former is the longest track on the record at about 6 minutes, but it’s one of the best tracks, too. It starts off slowly, but slowly builds into a very “epic” track, for the lack of a better word. It’s huge, spacious, and atmospheric. It sounds larger than life, essentially. Last track “Red Sky” is kind of the same way, but it’s a bit more stripped down. I don’t know why I haven’t heard this record sooner, but Thrice has always been one of my favorite bands, just for the few records I’ve heard by them, and now I can add another one to the list that absolutely blew me away.