A friend of mine told me that I "of all people should start a music blog." I thought she might be onto something, so here we are. I'm not exactly sure what this is going to be yet...probably mostly random record reviews, random musings and crap that's on my mind, maybe old concert reviews or whatever else I can dig up...the possibilities are endless really
I think it only fitting to make my first entry about Thrice, a band I've been obsessing over for a few months. "Obsessing? Isn't that a little bit of a strong word." On my last.fm page (this essentially pointless website that catalogues the statistics of what you've been listening to on whatever media player you have it synced up with...one feature of which is creating lists of the top songs and artists you've listened to in the last: 7 days, month, 3 months, 6 months, and year...really that's kind of the only feature...ANYWAY...) in the last 3 months, Thrice is the most played artist with 969 plays...second place is System of a Down with 88...
What really gets me about Thrice is their sense of dramatic structure in their songs. It's clear just from listening to their songs (specifically on the last three albums) that they know exactly where to go with a song and when. They have some of the most dizzying build-ups and most powerful, emotional, melodic releases. Some bands noticeably approach their songs in a very cinematic way and are able to take you on a journey where you can almost form the story in your mind as you listen to the song. The two best bands alive at doing this, in my opinion, are Tool and Thrice.
Vheissu has already cracked my all time top 25 but with their new opus "The Alchemy Index" they really pushed the envelope of what they're capable of. "The Alchemy Index" is a collection of four volumes, in EP form, each of which is "sonically and thematically" centered around one of the four natural elements (Volume I is Fire, Volume II is Water, Volume III is Air, and Volume IV is Earth). To top it all off, the 6th and final track of each volume comes in the form of a sonnet written from the point of view of the corresponding element (they are, however, songs, not readings, with the lyrics being in sonnet form...also the ending couplet of every sonnet is sung in the same melody and progression just in a different key each time). I hope you're beginning to see why I'm so obsessed with this band. Others probably think this is way too complicated and this band is a bunch of art fags. YOU all can kindly leave and never return. :)
One of the coolest things about "The Alchemy Index", to me, is the sonic aspect of the elements concept. The "Fire" disc is full of incendiary, raging, fiery material with plenty of corresponding imagery ("Firebreather", "Burn the Fleet", "The Flame Deluge", etc.). The "Water" is deep, dreamy, watery with songs like "Digital Sea" and "Open Water" (bookended by a dazzling sonnet about minding the power of the sea). "Air" is one of my favorite as it features an opening song ("Broken Lungs") essentially arguing in favor of 9/11 conspiracy theories ("are we fools and cowards all to let them cover up their lies? because we all watched the buildings fall...") with a breakdown so powerful that the first time I heard it my jaw literally dropped. It also features one of my favorite Thrice songs ever, "Daedalus" which is thematically wrapped around the story of Daedalus, Icarus's father, and is a strikingly beautiful metaphor for fatherhood ("oh son, please keep a steady wing, you know you're the only one that means anything to me...").
But nowhere does the elements concept shine through better sonically than on "Earth", the final volume. In a startling turn of Radiohead-like proportions, Volume IV of "The Alchemy Index" is a collection of old-timey, folky, beautifully earthy tunes with titles like "Moving Mountains" and "Digging My Own Grave" that sound like they're straight out of a John Steinbeck novel. There's even a brilliant, grooving cover of a Frodus song called "The Earth Isn't Humming." The last two songs really steal the show though. "Come All You Weary" is a powerful and uplifting song that reflects Dustin Kensrue's feeling about his music--in that he's said in interviews that he wants his music to help people and when he's in a dark place he likes to write about the light and lift himself out of the dark and hopefully be able to do that for other people too--with almost biblical imagery ("I've got a couple of loaves, sit down at my feet. Lend me your ears and we'll break bread and eat."). Then is the final sonnet of the opus, "Child of Dust", written from the point of view of the Earth. This has to be one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever heard. I remember the first time I really listened to the song while reading the lyrics, when I heard the line "And though I only ever gave you love/Like every child you've chosen to rebel" I almost cried. Seriously.
Don't even get me started on their older material, which I'm only recently (the last few weeks) starting to get obsessed with. Not so much "The Illusion of Safety", which is decent, but "The Artist In the Ambulance" has some seriously catchy, fun, heavy songs (the title track is one of the catchiest songs I've ever heard). But anyway, I should wrap this up. Do yourself a favor and go buy Vheissu...if nothing else you need to hear this album at least once. Tracks 5-8 are one of the most unbelievable four song stretches I've ever heard. Also make sure you read their lyrics too because some of them are just beautiful.