April 15, 2008 - Vagrant
When Thrice revealed the concept for The Alchemy Index-four EPs revolving around fire, water, earth and air-it could’ve gone Black Parade-right or Operation: Mindcrime-wrong. Clearly leaving no studio knob unturned for the first two volumes (Fire and Water) and following the melodic path Thrice embarked on with 2005’s melodic Vheissu, the now post-post-hardcore outfit have unleashed two six-song sets that are often experimental and occasionally brilliant.
With probably the closest resemblance in the Index to O.G. Thrice, Fire erupts with the anthemic “Firebreather”-and, yes, every Fire song refers to flames/burning/Backdraft and each on Water refers to oceans/drowning/Davy Jones. While the hot half evokes Coheedian drama (“The Arsonist”) and even Vangelis (“The Flame Deluge”), it veers further from The Illusion Of Safety post-hardcore. Water, however, is a Kid A-dive into synth-heavy, near-electronica (“Digital Sea”) and sweeping scores a la Vheissu’s “Atlantic” (“Lost Continent”) that would be almost unrecognizable as Thrice without Dustin Kensrue’s voice. If an unknown band were to release Vol. II, it’d probably be hailed as earth-shakingly original, but it may take older fans a few listens to fully embrace this brave (yet sensitive) new world. We’re still several months from the unveiling of the remaining two EPs, so it’s difficult to judge the concept as a whole, but together Fire and Water form one of the most breathtaking albums of the year.
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