Of all the reunions to take place over the last couple of years, Thrice’s is probably one of the biggest. As the frequent recipients of critical acclaim that they are, and rightly heralded as legends within the scene, the Californians’ announcement of their revival in the last days of 2014 sparked major adulation and anticipation that refused to die down until now with the release of their ninth full-length To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere. And even with this being their first album in five years, Thrice’s comeback is another barnstormer to add to their already healthy collection.
In terms of music, the Thrice of 2016 has its foundations built on a melting pot of the rougher, more rustic end of emo and a dark, grinding brand of alt-rock that gets along by dragging itself through the dirt. It’s a strikingly dense album, tightly packing in layers of sonic textures with Dustin Kensrue’s worn, gravelly vocals for an album that feels weighty without ever really being all that heavy. Blood On The Sand is driven by a propulsive, weathered riff but still packs in a chorus that would slot seamlessly with the rock bands on mainstream radio, while Wake Up creeps along with its grimy, haggard qualities in the vocals. It feels like an older, more weary take on no-frills rock, but that shouldn’t be misinterpreted as dull or dated. Instead, Thrice’s work here can be compared to that of Faith No More on last year’s Sol Invictus, embracing their increasing age and veteran status for what is the natural, ageing continuation of their sound.
But given the level of passion and intensity on To Be Everywhere…, there’s really no way it can be taken as dull or dated. The supply of belting, up-tempo tracks may be short (only the aforementioned Blood On The Sand and the fantastic Whistleblower, both of which reveal themselves as album highlights), but Thrice bring the thrills in other ways, namely in the rough, churning atmosphere each track conveys. Black Honey is a perfect example of this, with its ramshackle intro that leads into thick, swampy riffs, and a track whose solemnity feels controlled, but straining at the seams. It’s really this album’s strongest suit – there’s a smolder and a white-hot passion to these tracks that burns slow, but does so with intense heat. Even in the album’s ‘lighter’ moments, this remains a consistent factor – the shimmering guitar of The Long Defeat rests over a gritty backing that’s all tied together by Kensrue’s fracturing burr, and Stay With Me takes the form of a huge, arms-aloft arena ballad with its soaring instrumentation, but a quality that still sounds organic and human.
There honestly isn’t that much to criticise with To Be Everywhere…, and anything that can be found is really only a minor nitpick. The mid-album interlude Seneca doesn’t do a whole lot in a wider context, but its atmospherics are pretty enough, and even the weakest track, the six-minute-plus closer Salt And Shadow, while lacking the substance of everything else on offer, isn’t that bad. Thrice have pulled out all the stops on this album, and for a comeback album, it really couldn’t be better. There’s no reason whatsoever that this album shouldn’t appeal to anyone into melodic rock because, as dense and unwieldy as it may appear at first glance, this is an album that’s immediately accessible, but also that does rock the way it should be done – raw and passionate. And judging by this evidence, few do alt-rock rawer or more passionate than Thrice.
For fans of: Brand New, Manchester Orchestra, Thursday
Words by Luke Nuttall
‘To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere’ by Thrice is out now on Vagrant Records.