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Thrice - The Alchemy Index Vol.1 and 2: Fire & Water

  by Adrian Huggins

published: 9 / 11 / 2007

Thrice - The Alchemy Index Vol.1 and 2: Fire & Water
Label: Vagrant
Format: CD


Superb first two discs in four part concept album from Californian band Thrice, which examining the different elements, proves to be their strongest album to date

Californian post-hardcore band Thrice return to the scene with the first two discs from their 'Alchemy Index' album. The album is a four part concept album consisting of two double disc albums. 'Volume I and II (Fire and Water)' kick things off and give us both a great indication of what to expect in the future and also really emphasize how much Thrice have developed as a band over the past 7 years. While concept albums tend to be long winded and at times drawn out, Thrice have managed to cut to the fat and get straight to the point. Both Volume I and II contain 6 tracks each, making them easy to get into, rather than making you feel like you have to climb a mountain in order to get something from the whole body. The concept behind the different volumes is to examine the different elements and different sounds and the feelings they bring. With the first two volumes being dedicated to Fire and Water, the final two discs which will follow next year will be Earth and Air. The band left their previous label Island following creative differences and it give me great pleasure to say they seem to have made the right choice. This recording shows a band in full creative control and with the new-placed freedom and determination to explore their own sound. 'Volume I Fire' starts in familiar Thrice style with loud heavy distorted guitars which are set against the quiet-loud dynamics of Dustin Kensrue’s vocals. ‘Fire’, while harking back to their socially conscious second album ‘Artist in the Ambulance’, sees a real maturity in their song writing and in Thrice as a whole. The songs are much more layered and precise in texture rather than being chopped and changed around. They sound more wholesome and complete. The six songs fit together perfectly, opening up with the slow building ‘Firebreather’ which leads into the fantastic ‘Backdraft’ which sees the band flashing off their finest riffs and sounding absolutely huge. ‘The Arsonist’ is similarly paced with its sonic sounding guitars courtesy of Teppei Terranishi and singer Kensrue. The bass work from Ed Breckenridge is chunky and provides a perfect backbone without being either too much or too little. Drummer Riley Breckenridge is at his best on both CD’s, pounding like the best of any heavier drummers out there on ‘Fire’ and providing real depth with the digital beats that appear on the more electro sounding ‘Water’. The whole sound of the album is littered with keyboards and programmed beats from Teranishi that are subtle yet effective. With ‘Water’ showing the lighter side which the band have developed over the years, there is real evidence of growth in the band. Complete with solemn and ambient piano led tracks such as ‘Digital Sea’ and ‘Night Dive’ the band have really pushed the boat out in terms of letting their mellower side show. The most personal touch comes in the form of ‘The Whaler’, which describes the strains of new parenthood while maintaining the life of a musician. Thrice's previous album, 2005’s ‘Vheissu’, while at times showing glimpses of genius and being a step up from ‘Artist in the Ambulance’ never quite seemed to solidify the sound they were aiming for or capable of. On ‘Alchemy Index’ it is clear they have well and truly arrived as one of the best guitar bands out there.

Track Listing:-
1 Firebreather
2 The Messenger
3 Backdraft
4 The Arsonist
5 Burn the Fleet
6 The Flame Deluge
7 Digital Sea
8 Open Water
9 Lost Continent
10 Night Diving
11 The Whaler
12 Kings Upon the Main

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favourite album

The Artist in the Ambulance (2005)
Thrice - The Artist in the Ambulance
In his first article for us new Pennyblackmusic writer Andy Vincent writes about the impact hardcore/punk band Thrice's album 'The Artist in the Ambulance' had on him after he unexpectedly discovered them at the start of his college's summer holidays

digital downloads


Beggars (2009)
Excellent sixth album from Californian hardcore band Thrice who have become increasingly melodic and gentle in their sound
The Alchemy Index Vols III and IV : Air and Earth (2008)

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