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Music / Thrice

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The four elements of The Alchemy Index.

"We all were lost; now we are found
No one can stop us or slow us down
We are all named and we are known
We know that we'll never walk alone."

Thrice is an experimental rock band from Irvine, California, formed in 1998. Its members are Dustin Kensrue (lead vocals, guitar), Teppei Teranishi (guitar, keyboard, backing vocals, mixing), Edward “Eddie” Breckenridge (bass, keyboard, backing vocals), and Riley Breckenridge (drums), all of whom have been part of the band since its founding. Thrice is known for its constant stylistic evolution: each album sounds significantly different from the last, and the band has explored genres ranging from hardcore punk, post-hardcore and progressive rock to folk, blues and ambient music.

Studio albums:

  • Identity Crisis (2000; rereleased 2001)
  • The Illusion of Safety (2002)
  • The Artist in the Ambulance (2003)
  • Vheissu (2005)
  • The Alchemy Index Vols. I & II (Fire & Water) (2007)
  • The Alchemy Index Vols. III & IV (Air & Earth) (2008)
  • Beggars (2009)
  • Major/Minor (2011)
  • To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere (2016)
  • Palms (2018)
  • Horizons / East (2021)

EP's, Live Albums, compilations, and standalone singles:

  • First Impressions (EP, only 1,000 copies made) (1999)
  • Live from the Apple Store (acoustic EP, split with Thursday) (2003)
  • If We Could Only See Us Now (rarities album, featuring a DVD documentary) (2005)
  • Red Sky EP (companion piece to Vheissu) (2006)
  • The Myspace Transmissions (2008)
  • Live at the House of Blues (includes a concert DVD) (2008)
  • Daytrotter Sessions (2010)
  • Anthology (live recordings from the spring 2012 farewell tour) (2012)
  • "Sea Change" (non-album single from the To Be Everywhere... sessions) (2017)
  • Palms - Deeper Wells EP (2019)

Thrice is unique in that two of the members (Kensrue and Teranishi) are devout and open Christians, while the other two have no religious affiliations. Because Kensrue is the lyricist, the band’s songs frequently (albeit subtly) incorporate Christian themes, but due to their mixed membership and desire to reach a wider audience they have largely avoided the Christian Rock stigma.

The band went on an indefinite hiatus following a spring 2012 farewell tour. They reunited in 2015, returning more popular than ever— their 2016 album To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere quickly became their highest-charting release to date. Their most recent album, Horizons / East, was released in September 2021.

Thrice provides examples of the following tropes:

  • America Saves the Day: Subverted frequently on The Artist in the Ambulance and To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere. By the end of these albums there's little doubt as to how Kensrue feels about America's activity in the Middle East.
    • "The Sky Is Falling" also expresses disdain for this trope.
  • Bookends: The end of "Salt and Shadow" is "Hurricane" played on a piano.
  • Call-Back / Song of Song Titles: "Anthology" is almost entirely made up of lyrics from other Thrice songs.
  • Concept Album: The Alchemy Index. See Distinct Double Album.
  • Cover Version: They've recorded several, including "Send Me an Angel" by Real Life, "Seeing Red" by Minor Threat, "Eleanor Rigby," "Helter Skelter," and "I Want You/She's So Heavy" by The Beatles, and "The Earth Isn't Humming" by Frodus.
    • Dustin released a solo album of covers called Thoughts That Float on a Different Blood.
  • Darker and Edgier: Musically, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere is their heaviest album to date, in the vein of The Alchemy Index: Fire. Lyrically, it's a political album relating to the existential issues of the nation, an update of the themes of The Artist in the Ambulance.
  • Distinct Double Album: The Alchemy Index is either a double album or a quadruple album, depending on how you look at it. Each disc is dedicated to a different aspect of their sound: "Fire" is heavy rock, "Water" is ambient electronica, "Earth" is more acoustic and bluesy, and "Air" is, well a little bit of everything.
  • Downer Ending: Beggars has the album equivalent of this. Most of the album is fairly dark, but it's nothing compared the Title Track final song, with its lyrics about the fruitlessness of human achievement and its terrifying (but still awesome) ending guitar solo. The Alchemy Index also ends on a bit of a dark note with "Child Of Dust," a song about someone dying and being buried.
  • Elemental Embodiment: The Alchemy Index could be seen as the musical version of this trope.
  • Everything Is an Instrument: For the ending of "Child Of Dust," the band wanted to convey the sensation of being buried in a coffin. Their solution? They put the microphone in a box and shoveled dirt onto it while they sang. Other songs utilize "instruments" such as air raid sirens and telegraph machines.
  • Government Conspiracy: "Broken Lungs" alludes to 9/11 being an inside job. Much of To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere examines these, with "The Whistleblower" featuring allusions to Edward Snowden.
  • Gratuitous Panning: Used to good effect in "The Messenger."
  • Icarus Allusion / Perspective Flip: "The Melting Point Of Wax" (sung from the perspective of Icarus) and its Sequel Song, "Daedalus" (sung from the perspective of his father). It's interesting to see how Kensrue's interpretation of the myth changed after he had children.
  • Instrumentals: "The Next Day" and "Night Diving."
  • Literary Allusion Title: Kensrue is an avid reader, and makes frequent literary references in his lyrics and titles:
    • Vheissu takes its name from Thomas Pynchon's novel V., a book the whole band has read.
    • The songs "The Abolition of Man," "That Hideous Strength," and "Weight of Glory" are all named for C.S. Lewis books, and "As The Ruin Falls" shares its title with a Lewis poem. (Kensrue REALLY likes C.S. Lewis.)
      • Fitting, since Lewis himself was quite fond of literary allusion titles. In fact, That Hideous Strength (the book) is named after a line in a Sir David Lyndsay poem.
    • "Moving Mountains" and "Image of the Invisible" are both references to phrases in The Bible.
    • "The Red Death" is based on Edgar Allan Poe's "The Masque of the Red Death."
    • "Doublespeak" is a reference to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
    • "The Flame Deluge" is named after the apocalyptic event in Walter M. Miller, Jr.'s A Canticle for Leibowitz.
    • While a cinematic rather than literary title, "A Song For Milly Michaelson" is named after the protagonist in The Boy Who Could Fly.
    • "The Window" also features references to Plato's Cave and Emma Donoghue's novel Room.
    • To Be Everywhere is To Be Nowhere takes its title from a quote of Seneca the Younger in his text Epistulae morales ad Lucilium.
  • Live Album: Two of them: Live at the House of Blues, recorded in Anaheim in 2008, and Anthology, which is a sort of live compilation album from the band's farewell tour in 2012. The former also includes a DVD.
  • Long-Runner Line-up: Type 1 and 3. The band's lineup has been the same since its formation in 1999, even after their reunion.
  • Minimalistic Cover Art / Textless Album Cover: Major/Minor.
  • New Sound Album: Pretty much all of them. Thrice is known for this. It is sometimes a source of tension between fans who like the band's constant evolution and those who just want them to play their old stuff. The band itself has repeatedly considered changing names (effectively creating a "new" band) to reflect its evolving sound, but has always decided against it.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: "Music Box," obviously.
  • Not Staying for Breakfast: Discussed and averted in "The Weight":
    Someone may say that they'll always be true,
    then slip out the door 'fore the dawn;
    but I won't leave you hanging on.
  • The Philosopher: Kensrue has expressed an interest in going back to school to study philosophy, and philosophical concepts are mentioned in his lyrics fairly frequently. Aristotle, Nietzsche, Descartes and Seneca the Younger even get name-drops in "To Awake And Avenge The Dead," "So Strange I Remember You," "Digital Sea," and "Seneca" respectively.
  • Rearrange the Song: Their live sets include an extended version of "Deadbolt." This can be heard on Live at the House of Blues.
    • Also on Anthology.
  • Soprano and Gravel: "Digging My Own Grave."
  • Title Track: "Identity Crisis," "The Artist in the Ambulance," "Beggars."
  • Uncommon Time: They do this a lot.
  • Vocal Evolution: And how. It's hard to believe that the high, nasally singing on Thrice's early albums was done by the same man who performed gruff, bluesy songs like "Moving Mountains" and "The Weight." The effects of years of metal screaming on Dustin's throat (as well as his fondness for Tom Waits) probably have something to do with it.