The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II: Fire & Water

Written by: PP on 26/12/2007 03:53:43

Reviewing a Thrice album isn\'t your standard review task. Their experimental hardcore magic works so well that what\'s visible is always just the tip of the iceberg, and you\'re in for a troublesome task likely to consume months and months of active listening time to enable an accurate review. Their records need to be analyzed close up and looked at from a distance simultaneously; otherwise it\'s not possible to appreciate both the intricate small details and the large-scale atmospheric \'feeling\' elements. Consequently you can\'t just rush straight towards a Thrice release, which far too many magazines (especially the biggest ones) do and thus fail at the task miserably. Instead, you kind of have to sneak up on a Thrice release. Patiently wait in the shadows, and let it think you\'re not really listening when you actually are. I\'m not getting all mystical with you, dear reader, I\'m simply describing the process necessary to have any Thrice record post-\"The Illusion Of Safety\" open up properly for you (which is why this review is so delayed). This is especially important this time around, because Thrice\'s ambition and experimentalism hasn\'t just risen above the tree line, it has skyrocketed into outer space. \"The Alchemy Index\" is their adaptation of how the natural elements of our planet (earth, fire, water, and air) could be represented in sound.

Instead of releasing all four albums at once, Thrice has put together the first two elements Fire & Water into a double album, and for the purposes of this review, they are each reviewed separately.


Fire. Name some of the first things that come into mind. I\'ll bet that words like \"furious\", \"chaotic\", \"engulfing\", \"hot\", and \"dangerous\" pop up, which is basically the starting point for \"Fire\". Consequently the disc sees Thrice at their most aggressive, kind of like \"The Earth Will Shake\" and \"Hold Fast Hope\" spread over six songs - plenty of screaming, plenty of aggressive riffs and so on.

Although describing anything Thrice writes chaotic might be an overstatement, there\'s much more kick and action on \"Fire\", immediately provoking that very analogy. \"The Arsonist\" is probably closest to \"Deadbolt\"-styled lead guitar assaults we\'ll see from Thrice in a while, and with Dustin\'s raw, semi-screamed vocals left in a lo-fi produced state during many parts of the song, it is the song that perhaps creates that burning sensation you feel when you place your hand above flames. \"Burn The Fleet\" opens with open ended chords that sound absolutely massive, and with its desperation-filled chorus really paints a burning war-torn landscape into my mind. \"The Flame Deluge\" finishes the album off nicely with some imagery of being engulfed by flames, and especially Dustin\'s monstrous voice, which has been filtered over and over again, makes an impression.

\"Fire\" songs overall do a decent job at shifting the element into sound considering it is probably the most difficult element overall. They are harder to like initially, carrying \"Vheissu\" like \"uhh, put something else on\" denotation with most the six songs. But don\'t write them off just yet, they\'ve grown on me enough to replace the \"Water\" songs as my favorite from this record, and by this time next year I\'ll surely consider them masterpieces in experimental music. [8]


Where Thrice really shines in this release is on the second album, \"Water\". Because the band can now use words like ambient, silent, and peaceful instead of furious, \"Water\" sees Thrice on their softest to date.

The songs are filled with aquatic ambiance and endless space; you can easily close your eyes and allow your mind to float across the beautiful, silent atmospheres of songs like \"Lost Continent\" and \"Open Water\". Think listening to \"Music Box\" underwater. In the latter, subtle piano supports Dustin\'s softened, calm voice, which is surrounded by massive guitar effects, drawing parallels to some of Dredg\'s most peaceful songs.

Then you have the album\'s masterpiece, \"Night Diving\", which to me brings forth the exact same relaxed, peaceful feeling that deep sea scuba diving does. I couldn\'t think of a more perfect sound to describe that suspenseful feeling of witnessing the wonders of the sea maybe twenty meters underneath the surface - those who have been scuba diving in the past will know exactly what I mean. The song is six minutes long and mostly instrumental; beautiful is the only appropriate word for the many synth effects and the Pelican-like guitar sounds (see \"Bliss In Concrete\") in the song.

Throughout \"Water\" it\'s almost as if you\'re actually underwater without breathing apparatus, only that you aren\'t gasping for air, it feels all too peaceful for you to disrupt the harmony of the atmosphere. Like on \"Fire\", the \"Water\" concept is visited through obvious and implied references to the element, the sea, and it\'s wonders, but never so much that it feels tacky or forced for the purpose. Take \"Water\" with you for those late night music sessions, and you\'ll be surprised by its impressive depth, that isn\'t necessarily visible on the surface level.


Download: Night Diving, Burn The Fleet, The Flame Deluge, Digital Sea
For the fans of: Hopesfall, Deftones, 30 Seconds To Mars, Cave In
Listen: Myspace
Buy: iTunes

Release date 16.10.2007

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