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Thrice - The Alchemy Index: Volumes I & II: Fire & Water (Cover Artwork)

Thrice

Thrice: The Alchemy Index: Volumes I & II: Fire & WaterThe Alchemy Index: Volumes I & II: Fire & Water (2007)
Vagrant Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
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Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
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Thrice's ambitious, sprawling and highly anticipated project, The Alchemy Index finds its first two volumes released today. While the whole Index is unfortunately broken up into two releases like such, the band still offer a vividly contrasting pair of styles here that should please fans of both ele.


Thrice's ambitious, sprawling and highly anticipated project, The Alchemy Index finds its first two volumes released today. While the whole Index is unfortunately broken up into two releases like such, the band still offer a vividly contrasting pair of styles here that should please fans of both elements that combined for their previous effort, 2005's fairly polarizing Vheissu.

The 'Fire' EP takes quite obviously the heavier approach, progressing upon Vheissu's more volatile, confrontational moments. What ends up as a 22-minute musical result is Thrice's closest effort to a Hydra Head Records release yet in their catalog, strongly reminiscent of the pinnacle eras of acts like Cave In (i.e. the incredibly Jupiter-esque guitar squeals of "Backdraft" and "Burn the Fleet") and Isis ("Burn the Fleet"). Thrice reenforce heated imagery with plenty of lyrical references to flames, burning, generally hot temperatures and such. However, their repetitive use of it actually bogs down the EP a little. After all, frontman Dustin Kensrue seems a bit thin on ideas when he sings "I will see this city burn" in the anthemic "The Arsonist" and "we will burn the fleet" in "Burn the Fleet." However, he practically makes up for his paraphrasing alone with the literate "The Flame Deluge" and its well-integrated World War II references. Besides, his signature punishing growl, plenty of cool and varied production flourishes, the band's brutally stomping and creative instrumentation (the acoustic brushes of the creepy verses in "Backdraft") and violent outbursts (the quick, spastic "The Messenger" and its opening flames of electronics licking at the speakers; the absolutely smothering "The Flame Deluge") make 'Fire' easily one of Thrice's best and most well-rounded batch of selections to date.

Listening to the 27-minute 'Water' reads like a who's who of revered post-rock and indie acts. Thrice adapt Dntel's most delicate electronica moments ("Digital Sea," "Kings Upon the Main"), Sigur Rós' white atmospheres (constantly), Mono's elaborate orchestration ("Lost Continent"), Explosions in the Sky's starry spheres ("Open Water") and, well, a veritable shitload of Radiohead. Kensrue shows off the new peak of his voice's range with the stunning "Lost Continent," which begins with him reaching new highs over a warm piano. Thrice's general interpretation of water lies in haunting depictions of a dark and cavernous but mellow sea, especially with tracks like "The Whaler," "Kings Upon the Main" and the six-minute (!) instrumental (!) "Night Diving." Kensrue's also more consistent with his pen here, singing of a nearly heart-wrenching ocean metaphor and Davey Jones in "Open Water" and the viewpoint of a son desperate to have his voyaging father home in "The Whaler." It's all very methodically slow, deliberate and, sometimes, breathtaking, always changed up by effects on every aspect (vocals, electronics, piano, etc.). Those turned off by Vheissu's restraint and occasional use of piano and programming ("Atlantic," f.e.) will have an awfully hard time adjusting to the cool sauntering of 'Water,' but that's too bad as they're missing out on another superb, strong collection of pieces.

The Alchemy Index: Volumes I & II: Fire & Water is without a doubt the band's best work since 2002's fan favorite The Illusion of Safety, a fact made all the more miraculous by how DIY the album was made. Thrice push their boundaries without overshooting their capabilities, and it's resulted in an impressive, fluid and accomplished effort that leaves behind all the disastrous potential of self-indulgence.

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The Alchemy Index: Volumes I & II: Fire & Water

 

 
People who liked this also liked:
Brand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside MeBrand New - Deja EntenduThe Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!Refused - The Shape of Punk to ComeThrice - The Illusion of SafetyThrice - VheissuThe Weakerthans - Reunion TourThrice - The Artist In The AmbulanceThrice - The Alchemy Index: Volumes III & IV: Air & EarthA Wilhelm Scream - Mute Print

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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
stuxmusic (July 4, 2012)

Surprising, but thoroughly enjoyable. Not Thrice as we know it, but wonderful.

paulmarchandjr (November 21, 2008)

Seriously, if your going to change your sound as much as Thrice has, your probably going to alienate fans who liked you for the sound you had in the first place. Why don't you just break up or create a side project band or form under a different name so people won't waste their time on a whole different genre of music? I felt tricked when I bought this. It may be good for some, but it lacked the elements that I liked about the band in the first place, totally.

Fallen_leaves (December 23, 2007)

I think this is the best album they have made yet. I personally think everything from artist in an ambulance and before sucks because its not remotley original and gets old fast.

perk900 (November 18, 2007)

I'm sad that i paid full price for this CD.

I did it because i thought, "I remember liking thrice" and "concept album, eh?"

Listening to this album makes baby jesus cry.

There is nothing compelling about the songs. The electronica in it just makes me skip to the next song, and the over all dynamic range of the album is lacking.

This album is far from impressive nor their best effort.

GlassPipeMurder (November 9, 2007)

this fucking sucks! "vol. II" is the biggest fucking waste of disc space i've ever heard. the only salvageable track on the entire two-disc set is "The Messenger" and it still pales in comparison to Illusion of Safety or Identity Crisis.

Scruffy (October 23, 2007)

everybirdsnest1 - You realize what you copied and pasted from my post was me quoting someone else? I didn't say that.

noiinteam (October 22, 2007)

for anyone who can't listen to Open Water and not just realized it's a straight up beautiful song needs to take a crash course in music appreciation.

also, The Illusion of Safety is hands down one of the greatest records of all time. there's not a single song on that CD that I skip.

sidenote: my first Thrice album was Identity Crisis.

ConsolationPrizefighter (October 22, 2007)

Typo would have been if they didn't use it consistently in their silly rant. I would have kept my mouth shut at that point because while I didn't come off as the smartest guy in history there, I do my best not to make it worse.

aaronsoglorious (October 21, 2007)

i dont think any of you realize how talented they are as musicians. yeah their older albums are good but times change and so does music. get over it. these albums are amazing. alot of you just dont give music a chance because the band has changed since they started. big deal. they recorded this all themselves and used some amazing recording techniques. overall i think this is their best release and i look forward to air and earth.

chickswithdicks (October 19, 2007)

i actually don't mind this, i'm really not a thrice fan either so this means that this is either really really good for thrice, or really really bad for thrice.

slymer (October 19, 2007)

These guys are done. The first three albums were excellent. I don't even know what they're doing now. It's like blahcore.

jmargs13 (October 19, 2007)

thank god I never got that thrice tattoo I wanted 5 years ago

fallingupwards84 (October 19, 2007)

or maybe it was just a typo

ConsolationPrizefighter (October 18, 2007)

"TAATA"

You can't even form a competent abbreviation for THE ARTIST IN THE AMBULANCE. Your point has become kinda moot.

punkgato (October 18, 2007)

"Dude, Thrice have been around since 2000, and I think it's pretty obvious that people are still listening to them now. They're getting close to the 10 year mark already."

Dude...ten years from now, dude!

everybirdsnest1 (October 18, 2007)

Posted by Scruffy - "I bet in 10 years all the thrice haters are gonna circle-jerk to them just like they do to jawbreaker now."

Actually Im thinking about pawning the rest of my Thrice disc's off (IC, TIOS, TAATA) as I did with Vhessui 6 months ago. Why? because when I listen to them now(especially TAATA their best record) they come off as if they were made in complete insincerity, they even have said that TAATA was made with just churning out songs like machines. Well guess what boys? if that was the best way for you produce actual good songs and a cohesive album as a whole then that's a pretty sad commentary on your band and that is why Im done forever no matter what. Aint gonna be no MXPX for these guys, that reminds me, damn Secret Weapon is good.

cpp_ (October 18, 2007)

I thought the idea was horrible from the start, and I think the album is horrible.

Solix (October 18, 2007)

"no one will remember this band in 10 years"

Dude, Thrice have been around since 2000, and I think it's pretty obvious that people are still listening to them now. They're getting close to the 10 year mark already.

punkgato (October 18, 2007)

This band would've been great in 1997...in 2007 they sound like a Boysetsfire/Snapcase cover band! And for the record NO ONE will remember this band in ten years!

thomas7155 (October 18, 2007)

At least on the older records, Kevin Distrue sounds almost EXACTLY like Russ Rankin from Good Riddance.

swarley (October 18, 2007)

I am a long time thrice fan who was scared senseless waiting for this album to come out, however i'm actually really impressed. 'Fire' is still going to need some time to grow on me, but the 'Water' EP is really a beautiful record. They've managed to stay so focused on one theme through this 4-disc compilation that they can really deepen their sound

bad note: The messenger sounds too close to 'Hold Fast Hope' for comfort

Scruffy (October 17, 2007)

"I bet in 10 years all the thrice haters are gonna circle-jerk to them just like they do to jawbreaker now."

What'd you read something about Jawbreaker on a board and think you know everything? Have you ever talked to someone who was a fan back then? They didn't all turn their backs on Jawbreaker, and then "circle-jerk to them" now. Speaking as a pretty big Jawbreaker fan, the people I have talked to who liked them back then still pretend Dear You doesn't exist.

stevejonestherealbones (October 17, 2007)

the artist in the ambulence is probably their best overall release

- jones the bones

- stevejones8770@yahooo.com

inagreendase (October 17, 2007)

If I wanted to listen to synth/electonica/experimental/rock or whatever I would listen to shit bands like brand new or what BNO became.

Uh, what?

bathroom_surgery (October 17, 2007)

I bet in 10 years all the thrice haters are gonna circle-jerk to them just like they do to jawbreaker now.

i-type-poorly (October 17, 2007)

An EP about fire, huh?

Rocket From The Crypt says what's up.

wrongstring (October 17, 2007)

the boys write good, catchy, post hardcore. well done on the review.

Big_Guy (October 17, 2007)

TAITA, Vheissu and this are all outstanding.

Illusion of Safety is the most overrated chunk of music in this scene

PersonalResponsibility (October 17, 2007)

Could never get into this band. Boring.

thatsyouth (October 17, 2007)

why was U2 even going through your mind in the first place? I thought the people sucessfully forgot about them.

fallingupwards84 (October 17, 2007)

A band like Killswitch will never put out a bad album

lolz

sweetsuperior (October 17, 2007)

is thrice the U2 of the post-hardcore set? i was watching them play 'firebreather' on 'the daily habit' on fuel tv last night and the outro of said song with it's simple, memorable chord structure and single note line reminded me of the power and simplicity of the U2 songs i like. they're also solid, high-minded dudes that work with charitable causes and obviously don't care what you think of their records. i hope thrice is around as long (or longer) than bono and co. have been.

DoubleA (October 17, 2007)

Did anyone else find the production value on the fire disc lacking? Some parts should feel like a punch to the nuts (in a good way) but fall short. Overall though a solid effort. The Whaler is the standout track for me so far.

SST108 (October 17, 2007)

was hoping although I knew it would not happen that at least the fire ep would be somthing similar to the sound that was discarded for the musically masterful, yet unlistenable to my tase vheissu. Thrice was always a great live show that played every song to perfection. I know people seem to think of Illusion as their best record, but I am in the minority in saying I enjoy IC better, but that is my opinion. If I wanted to listen to synth/electonica/experimental/rock or whatever I would listen to shit bands like brand new or what BNO became. Not for me. Another band that had to "grow" and is now a totally different band. What is wrong with sounding similar yet still growing. A band like Killswitch or Ignite will never put out a bad album and oh look they have the same sound they started with. Goodbye thrice, I tried.

Paulrulzdood (October 17, 2007)

based on one listen i'm not blown away by this album and I actually prefer the 'water' side even though going into it i thought i'd prefer 'fire'. 'water' really has some great moments and their evolution as a band is pretty sweet, i'm glad they don't just crank out album after album of 'illusion of safety' type stuff. that album is sweet, but I like hearing them experiment with more lush soundscapes, more space, slower tempo's, piano, effects, higher vocals, etc. its pretty solid. i'm not shitting my pants over it but it certainly is far from a bad album.

paul

DFelon204409 (October 17, 2007)

thrice deserves a fucking medal for abandoning a scene that quickly imploded in fashion and irony (not the good kind).

Thrice could have just released The Illusion in the Ambulance Crisis right now and it'd still trump all of the other artists in the "scene." The reason the scene quickly imploded is not because of fashion or irony but because bands could easily assert those traits but couldn't actually write compelling, memorable songs. So many bands (Victory Records) imitated what Thrice established by mixing melodic hardcore with fast, high-pitched guitar riffing and sing/scream vocals. If Thrice never evolved, they'd probably be like Strung Out, producing the same good album year and after despite people copying their style.

colin (October 17, 2007)

both thrice and brand new should be commended on their desire to push themselves artistically. both bands received such massive acclaim for early releases, lesser bands would have settled with the incoming paychecks for the next three records and then faded away into a history no one will care about.

however both bands took the artistic high road and tried to progress. both did in their own way and i think brand new pulled it off a hundred times better than thrice, but thrice deserves a fucking medal for abandoning a scene that quickly imploded in fashion and irony (not the good kind).

that being said, "the flame deluge" still fucking kicks my ass. nothing else on this record seems noteworthy, but holy god that song reminds me of a time when this band really knew how to tear your heart out. dustin's voice is second to none when he screams.

RondoMondo (October 17, 2007)

I might go to this show to see Brand New, but fuck Thrice. Never been a fan.

nocigar (October 17, 2007)

Brand New>>>>this shit

brixtongunman (October 16, 2007)

You're kidding, right? The only thing Thrice has proven with their last two releases is that they know how to put me to sleep.

really, because I can't think of a band I find more boring than Brand New.

I'm not sure if I like this as much as Vheissu (I know I'm in the minority when i say that it was my favorite Thrice album), but each song on these discs is ace. at first listening to the pair felt kinda disjointed and incomplete but after giving it a few listens its grown on me, but I still think it will feel more natural once the other two EPs are out..

and the whaler is about a father and husband lamenting the fact that he has to leave his wife and daughter to... whale I guess...

tylerdurden8136 (October 16, 2007)

score is for the musicianship of thrice. and how it owns most bands out there. especially brand new.

You're kidding, right? The only thing Thrice has proven with their last two releases is that they know how to put me to sleep.

And if you're going to start comparing Brand New to Thrice, here:

The Devil and God > everything Thrice has ever done even though they're not even fucking similar

thatsyouth (October 16, 2007)

why the fuck are we comparing strung out and thrice? and you can't ever say someone is trying to sound like brand new. brand new rips off so many bands. of course this is a continuing cycle, but i mean, think about it. Brand New made Jude Law and Semester Abroad.

the fire is pretty good. water is really good. but firebreather has to go down as one of the songs of the year.

score is for the musicianship of thrice. and how it owns most bands out there. especially brand new.

pendalum_mcgonagal (October 16, 2007)

After reading on some of the capt planet references here, i couldn't help myself.

http://i2.photobucket.com/albums/y31/el_douche/thricecapt.jpg

iamthebat (October 16, 2007)

Full Metal Alchemist > The Alchemy Index

wonton (October 16, 2007)

Strung out > thrice

HB_Dad (October 16, 2007)

Great CD set. I have been listening since I got it last Friday and love it.

The breakdown:

Disc 1 (Fire) is FAR superior though. Heavy and very well written. "Backdraft" is now my favorite Thrice song yet.

Disc 2: its a grower. I love Digital Sea and was hoping for more of this type of energy (upbeat yet mellow) but instead got a lot of slow Radiohead-like stuff. My problem with the water concept Thrice is using is that the water vision they are using is apparently always still and tranquil. I always think of water with big swells, deep currents, and ripping undertows. Long story short, the water songs should've been more vast yet epic.

By the way, The Whaler is about a DAUGHTER wanting to see her father, not a son as the review said...

istapledmyfoot (October 16, 2007)

haha, the AP review they have on their myspace site compares it to Chevelle. Not even the Deftones! Chevelle!

brown (October 16, 2007)

I've never been into thrice, save for a couple of songs (like Phoenix Ignition) but I really want to hear this.

theoriginalsmellgoats (October 16, 2007)

score is for the song hideous strength that was on no proper full length listed below

conebone69 (October 16, 2007)

And, without him, they were useless.

Much like the past few Thrice records.

Note to people who read or post on absolutepunk: liking one-half of a record doesn't make this the record of the year.

It makes it a mediocre one just like Vheissu and TAITA.

DFelon204409 (October 16, 2007)

My extended commentary on the album is this: http://sputnikmusic.com/album.php?reviewid=13824

The short version of that story is that fire is weirder and more inventive than any previous releases on a whole but has more predictable moments as well (7/10). Water is sensational (9/10). Only bad track is "Digital Sea."

TheMarc (October 16, 2007)

Dude, nobody gave a shit about the kid with monkey.

conebone69 (October 16, 2007)

How can Thrice summon Captain Planet when they have no heart?

fallingupwards84 (October 16, 2007)

Colin - yea i miss the fast guitar hooks as well and i wish they would incorporate them more in the music... i guess the reason why I'm a bigger fan of Vhiessu than Illusion, however, is because Dustin's singing has improved tremendously over the last couple years. There are a few cringe-worthy moments IMO on Illusion when he's singing. But yea, they should bring back the fast guitar hooks in at least a few of the new songs.

Paul - you're right that Artist in the Ambulance was a "safe" record. its definitely their worst

nocigar (October 16, 2007)

this band sucks and i will not waste my time with this shit

danperrone (October 16, 2007)

the fire side fucking sucks. it tries way too hard to be epic and comes off sounding like chunky nu-metal...a la the deftones, only worse

water is actually kinda cool..."the whaler" is real good!

fire: 2/10
water: 7/10

overall: 5/10

mikeinflames (October 16, 2007)

"If you collect all the volumes you can summon Capitan Planet"

comment of the day.

Paulrulzdood (October 16, 2007)

1. Illusion of Safety is not overrated. that is a freakin' landmark album in the metal-core-emo-core-punk-core genre.
2. my first thrice album was identity crisis, which I picked up at plea for peace 2001. illusion blew it out of the water
3.illusion was way better than the safe-played artist in the ambulance
4.vhessu was great but lacked the chaos of Illusion. songs were a bit drudgery and deftonesy but still had some of the best shit they'd ever written and dustins vocals were at a new level.
5.lyrically, songs like 'see you in the shallows', 'trust', 'so strange i remember you' are still worlds better than most bands out there, and incredible considering Dustin was what, 21 when he wrote them?
6.red death, where idols once stood, a dance upon dead minds are semi-weak and did kind of flow together. the other 11 tracks more than made up for that.
7.this album is probably awesome. i'm going to go buy it now.

paul

colin (October 16, 2007)

Illusion of Safety is one of the most overrated albums ever talked about on this site... I've never understood the attachment to it, except for nostalgic reasons as it was almost every Thrice fans' first Thrice album. Yea its fast, but the vocals are weak and by the second half of the album the songs start to blur together.

i never really thought it was overrated and that actually surprises me but i checked the reviews and it did get pretty well lauded. which is weird. but it's a ridiculously good album. it took me some time to get into but had me hooked after that, but this was years ago.

i just think dustin was much better at screaming than he is singing. hence why i think that song "flame deluge" fucking rips while the rest of the fire ep is pretty well worthless. i guess what i miss is instead of having ridiculous fast guitar hooks in the heavy songs, the hooks are slowed down and simplified. meh.

this band is growing, though. so i do give em props for that.

chickswithdicks (October 16, 2007)

this has to be said again:

Posted by niveK82 on 2007-10-16 01:09:22

If you collect all the volumes you can summon Capitan Planet

seankingston (October 16, 2007)

the water side sounds like they are trying really hard to be Brand New to me.........but i give them props for the effort. its a pretty decent release.

fallingupwards84 (October 16, 2007)

i don't understand why thrice tries to be so epic - they had a masterful sound with illusion of safety that they just can't beat.

Illusion of Safety is one of the most overrated albums ever talked about on this site... I've never understood the attachment to it, except for nostalgic reasons as it was almost every Thrice fans' first Thrice album. Yea its fast, but the vocals are weak and by the second half of the album the songs start to blur together.

maverick (October 16, 2007)

"Firebreather" is one of my favorite songs of the year, right up there with Weatherbox's "Trippin' The Life Fantastic." It is one hell of a song.

I prefer the Fire EP to the Water EP, personally.

-Scott

HeresLookinAtYou (October 16, 2007)

I'm listening to this now and would have to agree. This is some really great stuff. I had high expectations for this album and they nailed it.

telegraphrocks (October 16, 2007)

Illusion Of Safety all sounded the same. Stop praising that fucking album.

everybirdsnest1 (October 16, 2007)

This is exactly the record I expected it to be as the follow up to Vheissu and this review is just a lame apology to say its actually good. Their best work since The Illusion of Saftey? you have got to be kidding me. This is just the path of self indulgence that I expected from these guys.

colin (October 16, 2007)

this is so underwhelming. 5/10. the last song on fire is fantastic, the rest is meh. i don't understand why thrice tries to be so epic - they had a masterful sound with illusion of safety that they just can't beat.

water stuff is interesting but regardless, this one was surely a let down.

niveK82 (October 16, 2007)

If you collect all the volumes you can summon Capitan Planet

coldwaffles (October 16, 2007)

Water gets a 12/10.
Fire gets a 7/10

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