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Thrice ~ The Alchemy Index Vols. 1-4

In an era where you can download whatever you want and music isn’t something you sit outside the record store and wait for anymore, it takes a lot for a band to create a tour de force that gets people out of their musical complacency and truly rock out. Well, like all acquired tastes — Thrice — might not do that for many people. But whatever you felt about them before the release of two double CDs over a six month span, you have to respect what they’ve created here.

I discovered them at the same time. Vol 3 & 4 were released last week, while Vol. 1 & 2 were released back in October.

They’re really just two albums (only six songs on each volume) on four CDs, but give them credit for the suspense factor. It’s very different than what they’ve released in the past. Nothing like Artist In the Ambulance or anything like that. It sounds way more like a combination of Thrice, 30 Seconds to Mars, A Perfect Circle and Coheed and Cambria. How is it ALL of those? It’s not. But if you combined them somehow, you’d get this output and it’d be….well, a pretty awesome feat.

Here are two reviews:

Fire & Water
Fire and Water start strong with the track Firebreather which doesn’t give you a chance to catch your breath from the moment you start it. Which frankly, is how it should be. The vocals don’t really lend itself to this style, but it at least sounds in theory like Thrice of olde, with amped up riffs and vocals. But it works, it also works on The Arsonist. But the best song on the entire collection of discs is a ditty called Burn The Fleet. It’s probably that way in my mind because it sounds like Thrice, but it’s also emphatic and fits the scheme of the album so perfectly.

I think the Water disc is where this album lost me a bit. It was too….well, it was just too much of a letdown after flying high on “Fire”. It’s good enough, a little too reliant on ambient noises and yet, thematically it works extremely well. It’s just a matter of what your ears are attuned to. Digital Sea and Night Driving were the two tracks I liked on the 2nd CD more than any others.

It’s not a bad collection of songs, it’s just two very different discs and until you get to hear Vols 3 & 4, you’re not really sure what they’re trying to do. It does, however, leave you wanting more.

[rating: 3]

Air & Earth
Air and Earth are Volumes 3 & 4 of the Thrice “Alchemy Index” series. It’s…an interesting contrast from Fire and Water for a number of reasons, as they take a far more airy approach. It’s stripped down and concise, doesn’t waste a lot of time on melodies and yet, it’s still focused as heavily on presentation as the first set of discs.

If you were riding high after Fire and Water, this one is stripped down to the elements. It’s still exquisitely done, from the precision of the guitar on like The Earth Isn’t Humming to the haunting beauty of a track like A Song for Milly Michaelson.

There is just nothing ordinary about these sets of tracks and there are more than enough songs to make it worth your while to listen to it from start to finish without skipping. Some critics might say they spent too much time trying to take the themes too literally, but I don’t see any signs of that really. It feels very intertwined with the first set of discs and while it might be a bit of a risk to take for a band that doesn’t have a huge following, it’s an auditory excursion throughout.

Good times.
[rating: 4.5]