The first track on 'Vheissu', Thrice's fourth album proper, sets to demolish the rumour mill that's been in fifth gear in the run up to this release. The stories read that Thrice had discarded every element of the music that made their name, fled any scene tags that were still stuck, even abanoned rock and roll altogether. But 'Image of the Invisible' is a blistering and dynamic call and response rock song- the stuff lesser bands can't even dream of. And, if any were needed, instant comfort for fans of 'The Illusion of Safety''s quick-fingered mild thrash attack and 'The Artist in the Ambulance''s powerful heaviness that some of the Thrice of old remains. But it's all a front.
There are few other examples of the same kind of immediacy or aggression. 'The Earth Will Shake' is heavy but slow, 'For Miles' goes through four minutes of swaying rock before Dustin Kensrue gets to unleash his growl and 'Hold Fast Hope' feigns at hardcore punk before revealing a wilting, pleading melody.What there are, are songs that build from delicate but engrossing piano melodies, adding layers of keys, percussion, synths and strings until they become massive walls of sound. These can be heavy as on 'Music Box' or 'Like Moths to Flame' but always hide fragile indie strum behind them. And there are clicking, calm Radiohead-infused passages that make sure tracks like 'Stand and Feel Your Worth' and 'Atlantic' make their mark.The end result means the album has a massive ebb and flow, even within songs the mood rises to oppressive confrontation and falls to creepy effects and barely audible lyrical gems.
One of the bands goals for 'Vheissu' was to make their already kinetic and emotional music more cinematic, and that effort has definitely made this an 'album' in the old-fashioned sense of the word. This is Thrice's least catchy, or even, easy, release but this is isn't some token singles or studio stodge. This is a story from beginning to end where tracks don't stop they segue into each other.
But this isn't a Hollywood blockbuster; it's an obscure but interesting foreign film. It looks great, all moody and stormy but moves slowly, with purpose. It's in a language you can't quite understand perhaps, but one that reaches your ears smooth and clean, one that you'd love to learn and if you just try, it will be easy.
A personal triumph for a band that never wanted to be where they were put if nothing else
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