Thursday - War All the Time (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


War All the Time (2003)


As I write this, hurricane Isabel is bearing down on the east cost. It promises to bring thundering rainstorms, powerful gusts of wind, and coldly quiet interludes in the eye of the storm before the thundering resumes as it passes. And as the rain begins to fall, it seems oddly poetic to be writing about Thursday's newest record War All The Time.

Without becoming too abstract, the record shares many parallels with the imminent storm; the barreling guitars, the immediacy of the lyrics, and the oft imitated but rarely matched vocals. The structure of the record also resembles the aforementioned storm; exploding into view with "For the Workforce, Drowning" and building into explosive energy, then suddenly crashing into the gentle "The Song Brought To You By a Falling Bomb."

As before, Thursday's most striking characteristic is Geoff Rickly's anguished wail; while many acts have dabbled in his vocal stylings, Thursday never allows it to turn into another rhythmic device, delivering genuine catharsis with every scream, something most of the Thursday imitators would be smart to remember.

After all, since their 2001 breakthrough, Full Collapse, the band has proven to be one of the most blatently copied acts around; while they certainly didn't invent the mixture of singing and screaming on that record, they certainly proved the most influential manipulators of it. Often forgotten was the strong songwriting, and excellent musicianship, which is probably why so many of the Thursday-lite's just didn't get it. The screaming was never the point. It wasn't about contrast, or a juxtaposition, or an irony. It was the emotional climax to the lyrical and musical content, and if you listen closely to a Thursday record, and their nuanced use of the sound, you can clearly hear what so many other bands are doing wrong.

I think Thursday was aware of the fact that their trademark dynamics was getting the attention instead of the songs themselves, and so the leap in songwriting prowess is apparent. In many of the tracks, things are more toned down, but the dynamic range is clearly larger. Take the first single "Signals Over the Air", it opens with a straightforward drum pattern; the clean guitars enter, accompanied by Geoff's whispering vocals. The song gradually builds into a heavy crescendo, before returning to the softness from before.

In the same vein is the likely crowd favourite "Asleep in the Chapel" which opens softly as so many Thursday songs do, but continues to grow, shifting back and forth from the bombast of the sing-scream interplay, and then hits a anthemic chorus. But many of the tracks veer sharply from the expected path; like "The Song Brought To You By a Falling Bomb", which has minimal vocals over a piano.

While the band is frequently lumped into the so-called "screamo" vein, there is very little in common with the maligned genre on this record; neither musically, nor lyrically. If you get past the "hook" of the band, you'll find emotionally complex, aggressive and forward moving music that you cannot miss.