Thursday

No Devolución

Written by: PP on 05/05/2011 06:44:04

One of the most iconic emo/post-hardcore bands in existence, Thursday have come a long way to release their sixth studio album "No Devolución", the first album capable of standing on even footing with what is in my opinion their best album, "War All The Time". "Full Collapse", the often recited pioneering release for modern emo/post-hardcore, is great because of the emotional torment and vulnerability it represents. The songs weren't necessarily catchy, but the sheer amount of unadulterated and unfiltered emotion makes up for it, but looking back at it today there are many arguments for why the record is more of a nostalgic piece for those who grew up with it than an unforgettable record. A lot of these people don't like "War All The Time" because it shows Thursday at their most mainstream, displaying a big, clean sounding production and a more direct and fearless sound that grips the listener through its high level of aggression and heavy usage of the classic quiet/loud dynamic.

Then came "A City By The Light Divided", which saw the band attempt to re-create some of that "Full Collapse" magic by toning down production values, but while the songs may have been decent at face value, the sound was an absolute mess which left most confused as to what to think of it. "Common Existence", in comparison, improved the sound quality significantly, but it also saw the band take on an entirely new direction, introducing a mellower and more atmospheric sound than was previously the case. Though the change was somewhat unexpected, the result was reasonably good, even though it felt like the band were shying away from maximizing the potential in the new sound in an attempt to please the fans.

This is background that needs to be understood for one to understand "No Devolución", the band's most experimental effort yet. It's in many ways a continuation of the sound started on "Common Existence", except this time Thursday have thrown all their eggs in one basket and gone with it all the way. The result is a dozen hauntingly beautiful, ethereal songs that redefine the meaning of emo, not so much in the cut-my-wrists-because-i'm-crying way, rather than offering an entirely new and previously unseen presentation of emotion at its rawest and most beautiful form. Geoff Rickley steers clear of his trademark distorted shrieks for the most part, electing to use a dreamy, soft singing style instead. This gives the record a lighter touch for starters, but also enables soundscapes that are truly detailed and wonderful once you start paying attention. The focus has clearly been on crafting specific moods and atmospheres instead of just songs, which I felt was one of the weaknesses on "Common Existence".

Because of this, the songs aren't immediately catchy much in the same way as those on "Full Collapse", but include layers upon layers of depth and detail that uncovers itself only after several repeat listens to the album from start to finish. The result is a number of magnificent, unforgettable moments like the Muse-esque keyboard on "Sparks Against The Sun", or the scaling vocal work by Rickley in the same song that makes all the difference in the world. There are no "War All The Time" sing-a-long moments here, but instead the record is packed with extensive passages that you'll remember for weeks after first 'getting them'.

Those longing for the excellent screaming that Rickley is also able to offer when necessary won't be entirely disappointed either. "Open Quotes" is one example where the layer of screaming adds an extra amount of desperation to the soundscape and makes the song stand out as a result, but only when it is placed in contrast with the much softer and quieter "Sparks Against The Sun". It feels and sounds like an explosion of raw fury that has been building up for the first four tracks that is finally unleashed on the listener. Take that, quiet/loud dynamic, they used four songs on the first part before reaching the latter part of it.

It's this feeling of completeness what makes "No Devolución" such a brilliant album. It's not just a collection of songs, but a carefully thought-out package that screams artistic integrity and pure, unapprehensive desire to experiment with a genre many think is dead or at least about to be. It's also one of those records that may sound bland at first because it requires so much work to be fully understood and appreciated. For example, the organ-supported "Empty Glass" is so minimalistic that at first it sounds like Thursday have lost it, but then you come to realize how well it highlights the incredible vocal talent Rickley has in going from high notes to low notes and vice versa. It also works as a suitable interlude for what is perhaps the most obviously catchy track on the record, "A Gun In The First Act", which is in stark contrast to everything you've heard so far with its pounding drums, loud accordion, and an overall busy soundscape.

The best is left for last. Punk rhythms and a climaxing fountain of high pitch shouting and screaming surround "Turnpike Divides", the first real retrospective look at earlier Thursday material, but what seals the deal is the seven and a half-minute progressive epic "Stay True". It's a song that goes through many different phases and dynamics by having almost post-rock-ish structural perfection attached to it. Eventually the buildup explodes into menacing screaming, concluding a song and an album that sounds like no-one else out there. In a good, fantastic, incredible way. "No Devolución" should therefore be judged as nothing short of a masterpiece release, given how far it is willing to go in separating itself from any peers or even Thursday itself, successfully so.

9

Download: Fast To The End, Sparks Against The Sun, Turnpike Divides, Stay True
For the fans of: Thrice, Envy
Listen: Myspace

Release date 12.04.2011
Epitaph

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