Friday, December 09, 2005

Thrice - Vheissu ... CD Album Review

Released 18/10/05

It seems everyone is growing up these days, and Thrice are the latest band to offer their fans a much more mature sound. And if it means we’re going to be getting albums like this instead of the over-produced emocore of the past, I’m not going to complain. And neither should you.
Singer Dustin Kensrue says he wanted something a bit different for the new release, a less two-dimensional and more atmospheric sound, and opener (and first single) ‘Image of the Invisible’ achieves this. Merging post-punk riffs, aggressive vocals and soaring melodies, it immediately keeps you hooked and wanting more. ‘The Earth Will Shake’ offers something different again; gloomy, dark and one of the heavier tracks on the album, the chain gang chorus that cuts through it is also a fantastic touch. ‘Musicbox’ takes its influence as much from metal as emo, and starts off, oddly enough, with a music box sound. This melody melts into crashing guitars and intense beats before it again mellows down into a subdued verse. The melodic, semi-acoustic ‘Atlantic’ brings in more atmosphere and mood with its resonant and rootless piano sounds, but is the record's first lightweight track and possibly shouldn’t be this high up on the tracklisting. But ‘For Miles’, despite starting like a tea party with your mother, ends like a plane crash in Iraq. And so we’re back to the heaviness - although despite occasional moments of increased heaviness, overall this album contains much less screaming than previous outings. Whether this was just natural progression or a conscious thing I don’t know, but it works. Lyrically Vheissu also fares a lot better than before. ‘Image of the Invisible’ explores the power of free will and the vast potential of the human spirit. “We’re more static than dial tone, we’re emblematic of the unknown…” is, and I think you’ll all agree, much better than “My girlfriend's run away, and I’ve cut my arm”. Probably. Thrice believe Vheissu is the most hopeful record they’ve ever written, and this may stem from all their well-documented charity work. As part of their contract with Island Records they demanded a percentage of their previous album (The Artist In The Ambulance) sales be donated to the SSE Foundation. Similarly with Vheissu, a percentage of the sales will go to 826 Valencia, a tutorial programme designed to help underprivileged children improve their communication skills. Thrice have opened themselves up a new door, leaving them free to take their next album wherever they want - and it will still seem like a natural progression. I like surprises, and Vheissu was a fantastic surprise. I’m looking forward to hearing more.
James Bunce - 9/10


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