Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Thrice

To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere (2016)

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Did anyone think Thrice would be back from that four-year hiatus? Me neither. Yet here we are. Duly satisfied? Not really. That'd be too much of an understatement. What To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere (their ninth full-length) does instead reflects how time out of the limelight works in your favor. It takes the best off albums like The Artist In The Ambulance, Vheissu, Major/Minor and Beggars and refines them -- not with the aim of creating something similar -- but to craft something more inspirational. That said, this album's an unexpected breath of fresh air and exceeds expectations. It's quickly shot to the top of my Thrice catalog and feels it's their most definitive-sounding to date.

Dustin Kensrue absolutely holds nothing back on this album. He wades in to so many divisive issues here, creating some of his most cathartic crushers to date. Fans of his solo stuff would definitely be unsurprised at how he levels things off here. Thrice incorporate so many of their past signatures as Kensrue unloads his most political, passionate and personal lyrics to date. Over the course of the album, Kensrue examines America's foreign policy, war, oil-grabbing, immigration as well as a few other issues on the current social climate. Not to mention his own dealings with the likes of the Mars Hill Church and his overall stance on God. He signals this intent off the cuff with "Hurricane" which lays into the wreckage of the world at present, kicking off via a Pixies-esque intro. The calm before the storm. It quickly barrels into soaring melodies, as most of the tracks do, and explodes at the end. A friend commented that it sounded like a heavier Kings of Leon and honestly, he's right. A few '90s and 2000s bands do pop up as Thrice pay homage to an era most would consider forgotten or by now, antiquated.

While as dynamic as ever, it's hard to deny how mainstream and commercial a few of the songs are. "Blood On The Sand" is a great example of this as well as the depth of writing Kensrue puts in. The aggressive bassline and post-hardcore/grunge sound feels familiar but you can tell Thrice isn't keen on playing it safe. The break they took makes a lot of sense as you can feel the tension in his voice as well as how each tune segues into the next. The structured approach to how the tracks were laid flows remarkably, which surprised me in particular given that a lot of the creative engine was built away from each other with families and distance accounting for the gents being apart. Even in past interviews, there was an air of cynicism when they indicated they'd be making music again. They didn't sound confident but thankfully, all those doubts are exorcised just two tracks in.

"The Window" charms even more, feeling like they set fire to Radiohead. "Wake Up" is another solid track with quite a few shades of old emerging musically. Again, Kensrue's vocals are as on point as ever -- weathered yet propelling every single chorus on with furious intent. The same for "Black Honey" which touches on undertones of invasion for oil. Thrice is fighting the system and they aren't pulling any punches. Lyrics accompanying like RATM -- as cerebral as ever with all the rage in the world bottled in like the catalyst for impending doom. Kensrue sounds like he's ushering in the apocalypse (with some snide comments shot to Trump as well). It's not all gloom, ash, fire and brimstone though as "Stay With Me" slows things down. It's a comforting, melodic jam and interlude from all the angst on the record. The hazy guitars and atmospheric warmth are aligned more to Kensrue's solo work but they further highlight how Teppei Teranishi's guitars have gotten. He crafts a lot of the album's character and has never felt as liberated. He takes the spotlight away and unleashes on tracks like "Death From Above" which fans of Tool, O'Brother, Three Days Grace and A Perfect Circle would love. Addressing conflict has never felt so public yet so triumphant from Thrice's perspective -- all setting the stage for the pianos and harmony of "Salt and Shadow" to bring the curtains down. This addresses the opening track (one touching on the chaos of the world) and swims in a sense of optimism, healing and rebuilding. A slow, beautiful burner. A ballad that compounds all the emotion on the album and which I will admit, dredges up all the hurt from my younger days. But again, it paints a better day and the promise of tomorrow, which the second half of the album reiterates. The darkness will fade and light will shine through. Thrice end up purifying a lot of the negatives they bring up in message earlier on and it's songs like this which show that at their core, they're the epitome of versatility as well as amazing storytelling. Reminding you that there are so many layers to their return. Their rebirth. Or whatever you wanna call it. To me, it's something much more ethereal and much more delicate than I first envisioned.

A record of imagination. A record of reality. Punishing and as accomplished as ever. They retain their best qualities -- instrumentation-wise -- and it's a pleasure to document how the technical skill of this band unravels in spades, yet again. Raw but polished. Dramatic but with purpose. All on top of a soulful rasp that emphasizes to us... how precious second chances are.