To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere
Five years is a long time to wait for new music by a band you love. It’s countless hours given over to revisiting their previous offerings which, in the case of Thrice, means 8 full length albums and a couple of live recordings. It’s in this nostalgic audio trip that the sickness can arise: the mythical elevation of a band’s music, the intense attachment to songs now forever frozen in time because the band is “on hiatus.” It’s in these 5 years of private listening that the expectation for what a 9th album would bring can swell to unreasonable levels.
What band could live up to such expectation? Against all odds, Thrice has. To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere doesn’t pick up where 2011’s Major/Minor left off, nor does it sound like 5 years worth of ideas crammed into an overindulgent studio session. It sounds like a band that set out for a different path, away from the stage, only to find that it was leading them right back to each other.
The slow evolution of Thrice has found them transforming from a screamo/melodic hardcore band that sailed the seas with like minded bands like Thursday and UnderOath at the turn of the 21st century into the experimental band they are today that incorporates electronic elements and unexpected song structures into a heavy musical style that weaves folk-inspired melodies and philosophical lyrics into the final mix. They have expanded into something far greater than the band they once were, but haven’t lost the urgency of the early days.
“Blood On The Sand,” the first new Thrice recording post hiatus, is a raging denouncement of the culture of fear and hate that stains the world performed with the same kind of explosive zeal as classics like “The Artist in the Ambulance” or “Image of the Invisible.” On its surface, it’s a brand new pit-burner, but lyrically it’s a frustrated commentary on the state of the world. The themes of “Hurricane” touch upon similar feelings of hopelessness of watching the world downward spiral, but is presented with the band’s familiar fiery assault.
Thrice’s secret weapon has always been there slow-to-burst dynamic ballads and both “Wake Up” and “Death From Above” nail that perfect balance between a slow burn and a raging inferno. Singer Dustin Kensrue doesn’t go so much from quiet to loud, as from sensitive to infuriated and back again. It’s a delicate cut to make and few do so with such precision as he.
In the middle of the album is a minute long instrumental (“Seneca”) that reminds me of “Night Diving” off of The Alchemy Index: Vol. 2 – Water and begs the question: Why haven’t Thrice made an all instrumental record yet?
Closing out this don’t-call-it-a-comeback album is an ethereal stretching of the legs, “Salt and Shadow.” The ambient piano ballad paints circles through the night sky and embodies all of the Earthly elements Thrice so eloquently explore, but mostly it feels like Water. And I could drown in its beauty.