Thrice - The Alchemy Index: Volumes III & IV: Air & Earth (Cover Artwork)


Thrice: The Alchemy Index: Volumes III & IV: Air & EarthThe Alchemy Index: Volumes III & IV: Air & Earth (2008)
Vagrant Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
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Thrice completes the four-EP cycle here for their ambitious project, The Alchemy Index, which found them tackling the elements (water, fire, air and earth) and applying musical styles to them. While Volumes III & IV aren't quite as effective or accomplished as the first two EPs, Air & Earth is anoth.

Thrice completes the four-EP cycle here for their ambitious project, The Alchemy Index, which found them tackling the elements (water, fire, air and earth) and applying musical styles to them. While Volumes III & IV aren't quite as effective or accomplished as the first two EPs, Air & Earth is another polar opposite pair that finds Thrice stretching their musical boundaries and writing lush, expansive and emotional songs.

With xylophone plinks and a shuffle on the drums that lift the piece and make it saunter along, "Broken Lungs" serves as a welcome introduction to Air. However, nearly every song here really does seem to travel swiftly, and most importantly, somehow aloft. In "The Sky Is Falling," a burst of sparkling guitar twinkles among the chorus and steady and snappy handclaps propel it along at times. One can hear the wind rushing in and brushing the wind chimes in the restrained yet tense "A Song for Milly Michaelson," while "Daedalus" relies on bending guitar riffs and bases itself upon the Greek myth involving the title character and his ill-fated son Icarus -- a pretty sensible story for such an EP. With pretty atmospheres at nearly every turn, a comparison could certainly be made to the Appleseed Cast (in fact, it's funny the band names the opening track to Earth "Moving Mountains," since one's certainly tempted to draw a parallel between that band and Air), or perhaps the less overwhelming dynamic to Brand New's The Devil And God Are Raging Inside Me. Closing the EP is the all-too-short and simply beautiful "Silver Wings," one of two closing sonnets on the entire package.

Earth takes the down-home folky slant, with the sound making it easy to picture the band sitting in chairs on the hardwood floor of the studio simply laying down tracks together on acoustic guitars and various auxiliary instruments (like the piano-dependent "Digging My Own Grave"). The EP often comes off like a full-band version of frontman Dustin Kensrue's 2007 solo full-length, Please Come Home, yet subsequently retains a unique nature about itself. Earth may be the least enjoyable and mesmerizing of the four EPs, but it's the most succinct and the band hide their influences much better. They also try something different, transforming Frodus' "The Earth Isn't Humming" into a countrified, slowed-down jig full of acoustics and what even sound like banjos while retaining the revolution vibe of the original; Kensrue does a damn good Nathan Burke here, too. Of course, there's also the "Come All You Weary" single with its grand, rousing chorus. The final standout is the incredibly somber and nearly bluesy sonnet closer, "Child of Dust," where the band (almost literally) bury you alive; the mic was placed in a coffin and buried like a proper funeral, so after the casket is closed, the sound of the song becomes more and more muffled as you hear the clink of the shovels dig into the dirt and rocks. It's a little abrupt, but it serves up some purely arresting and heartache-inducing moments.

For Thrice to somehow coalesce these styles on their next album, it's either going to take some serious ambition or seriously progressive and new ideas to avoid a jumbled mess. They've already proved they can strip it down to respective parts and still create effectual, moving pieces that are complete all on their own, giving a new and more concise meaning to prog-rock.

Broken Lungs [Air]
Moving Mountains [Earth]
Come All You Weary [Earth]


People who liked this also liked:
Thrice - The Alchemy Index: Volumes I & II: Fire & WaterBrand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside MeAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Clash - London CallingRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeAgainst Me! - As The Eternal CowboyJawbreaker - Dear YouAlkaline Trio - GoddamnitBrand New - Deja EntenduAlkaline Trio - From Here To Infirmary

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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)

Sure, this is less enjoyable than parts 1 and 2, but still much more enjoyable than what was to come next.

wonton (July 29, 2008)

score is for how awesome strung out is.

BTDAN (July 25, 2008)

Score is for their now boring live shows.

fallingupwards84 (July 25, 2008)

Yes, Come All You Weary, I am the Truth and the Light

-Jesus H. Christ

magic-pig_detective (July 24, 2008)

collect all 84!

cheesetits (July 24, 2008)

Best commercial ever.

ollywood (July 24, 2008)

"fire beats wood"
that kid is awesome

thanks for conjuring up childhood memories

skolarx (July 24, 2008)

did anyone else find "digging my own grave" to sound a lot like old tom waits stuff? i was enjoying these cds and that knocked it out of the park for me. i probably didn't listen to them as much as i did dustin's solo record but they are still in my top 5 for this year so far

paulrulzdood (July 24, 2008)

ollywood, you just made my day. fucking awesome...I hadn't thought of those in years, not til I saw all the rankings of the e.p.'s on here, it's like everyone on here is playing battle beasts..."water beats fire!" lol


ollywood (July 24, 2008)
paulrulzdood (July 24, 2008)

Battle Beasts...fucking A.....fucking A....

So according to the Battle Beasts, we should rank the alchemy index as follows

Water is better than Fire, Fire is better than Earth, Earth is better than Water and I don't think there were Air battle beasts?

Score is for mid-late 80's action figures (they're not dolls bitch!)

remember "army ants"?


SloaneDaley (July 24, 2008)

holy shit! Battle Beasts are the best toys ever.

ollywood (July 23, 2008)

I still got my battle beasts. those, my transformers, amd old star wars figures are among the only toys i decided to keep from my childhood. My mom insisted on and is holding on to my ninja turtles and ghostbusters. Score is for the toys that existed during my childhood.

2ndStage (July 23, 2008)


2ndStage (July 23, 2008)

those action figures are call "battle beasts".

cheesetits (July 23, 2008)


I know those figures you're talking about, holy shit, but I can't remember the name of them. Weren't they like animal human things?

polaris (July 23, 2008)

[i]I might get lambasted for this, but I think The Artist In The Ambulance is their best record. [/i]


hubitcherkokov (July 23, 2008)

Loved the first two, love these even more.

For me:

1. Air
2. Water
3. Earth
4. Fire

Water and Earth could be switched around depending on my mood, and Fire is "last" because I really like how atypical the other three are, but I don't think you can go wrong with any of them.

Were there any b-sides to "The Alchemy Index" sessions?

ConsumedByMusic (July 23, 2008)

I thought earth was the best one they did. I enjoyed Fire because htat was as close to old thrice as you're going to get and water was fun. I just thought Air was the turd that was left and slapped together to fill out the album.

telegraphrocks (July 23, 2008)

Thrice das Nickelback nyet Limp Bizkit!
Labas, que?

paulrulzdood (July 23, 2008)

Saying "the artist in the ambulance" is their best album isn't nearly as rediculous as claiming "identity crisis" is their best...I mean COME THE FUCK ON, if you think "identity" is their best you're a complete retard.

"Artist" was great. But I think they played it pretty safe on that album, it was basically "illusion of safety" part 2, this time with normal song structures and actual chorus's! But I did love it, it's the closest they've come to a "commercially friendly" release though...but the songs translate well live and while I didn't think it stood up to "illusion" in hindsight, 5 years later, yea, its a dope album.

Here's how I'd rank 'em.

1.illusion of safety 10/10
2.Vhessu 8.5/10
3.Aritist in the Ambulance 8/10
4.Alchemy Index 7.5/10
5.Identity Crisis 6.5/10

Does anyone remember those action figures that had the elements on their chest that you put you finger on to see whether they were "wood", "fire", "water" and I forget what the other was...and like, "fire" beat "wood", but "wood" beat water" or some shit?

Socres for Thrice. And yea, Brand New sucks balls live, especially compared to Thrice, who play nicely balanced sets of old and new shit.

thatsyouth (July 23, 2008)

go ahead everyone. show how punk you are and say how theyve sucked ever since artist came out.

Seriously, get over it. Thrice has done way more than a lot bands have. They have progressed and matured with each album. They haven't made the same CD with a different name once. And they have managed to produce great music in each one. Does anyone hear know whats going to come from the next? No. How many bands that you listen to can say the same?

1. Water
2. Earth
3. Air
4. Fire

It could easily be in any different order. The messenger and Firebreather are 2 of my top 5 fav songs on all the CDs combined, but I still wasn't crazy about the rest.

and I dont want to hear this ridiculous comparison of Thrice and Brand New anymore. Brand News transition from Your Favorite Weapon to Deja Entendu and beyond was the fakest thing ive ever seen. Seriously. "I know you a sucker for anything acoustic" "this isn't high school!" to all their indie shit? You kidding me? And they put on a fuckin horrible live show.

Score is for Thrice.

justaine (July 23, 2008)

Great Production of crappy songs, I miss when Thrice used to play fast!

bryne (July 23, 2008)

This whole EP experiment was okay, if a bit indulgent at times--I think I'd rather they just pull the three best songs from each one and release it as a full-length.

I might get lambasted for this, but I think The Artist In The Ambulance is their best record.

nocigar (July 23, 2008)


paulrulzdood (July 23, 2008)

wow, someone thinks "identity crisis" is their best album? considering they were like 19/20 when they wrote it, yea, it's impressive, but c'mon, Dustin's voice sounds like garbage compared to every album they did since then and the music is pretty trite...recycled metallica riffs mixed with melodic skate punk/hardcore. It was the shit back in 2000, but "illusion of safety" blew it out of the water.

paulrulzdood (July 23, 2008)

overall, I thought the "alchemy index" project was a huge success, I enjoy all 4 elements, but "fire" and "water" i found to be the more memorable of the volumes. "air" is ok, "the sky is falling" is pretty awesome but I found "earth" to be the more interesting of the two. "moving mountains", "digging my own grave" and "come all you weary" are fantastic.

I did not know that about burying the mic, that's pretty cool.

I'll be interested to see what they do next, a single album that mixes all of their styles at this point would be a disjointed mess with no flow. So they'll either have to do a straight up heavy album again with a few mellow songs like "vheissu" or do the bold thing and make an album that's on the lines of air/dirt and has virtually no influence from their 99-03 era that got them where they are today.

very talented band, fantastic live, good shit.

gnardo (July 23, 2008)

I liked all the volumes - Earth being my favourite, followed closely by Water.

polaris (July 23, 2008)

"Daedalus" is the best song on all four volumes.

Icapped2pac (July 23, 2008)

I'm not a fan of these guys, but I would be really interested to hear the Frodus cover. Which song did they cover? Was it something off "...And We Washed Our Weapons..." hopefully?

facetofacereunion08 (July 23, 2008)

only good thrice cd: first impressions

score is for trying to be too artistic...just make good fucking music!

Allular (July 23, 2008)

As a whole, I give the whole project a B-.

Here's how they stand with me.

1. Water
2. Fire
3. Earth
4. Air

Air just didn't do anything for me. "Come All You Weary" and the Frodus cover was enough to push it ahead. I was REALLY impressed with the Water stuff though.

Curious to see what they do next now.

cheesetits (July 23, 2008)

These cds surprised me. I've liked Thrice since Illusion of Safety, and I still like their new stuff after the severe change.

Johnny_J (July 23, 2008)

Each four volumes had their ups and downs, but overall, I was fairly impressed. Here's my order:

1.) Fire
2.) Earth
3.) Water
4.) Air

ollywood (July 23, 2008)

Could not care less at all.

i liked the identity album but thats as far as my love for this band goes

fallingupwards84 (July 22, 2008)

this shit's embarrassing... way too over-ambitious

mrfunktion (July 22, 2008)

Earth is by far the best.

bornofthenight (July 22, 2008)

this is superior to Vol. 1 and 2.

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