Top Twenty Tuesday – Thrice

The year of post-hardcore reunions is upon us! Whether you are a fan of Thursday, Refused, At The Drive-In, Drive Like Jehu, Glassjaw, The Fall of Troy, all of the above, and even beyond, there are many great records to be excited about in the near future, some already released. With that, let’s take into consideration perhaps the most important “We’re back!” album of all, Thrice’s To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, out this Friday! Before the celebration begins, take a look back at Durbanboys’ 20 favorite songs by the acclaimed post-hardcore giants.

 

20. In Exile (Beggars)

It’s an entire four minutes of intensive build up, but the narrative of “In Exile” with respect to all of Beggars is Dustin Kensrue’s most apparent religious overtone. The track deals with visions of one fighting as an anomaly on earth, fighting to stand apart in hopes of a bigger vision of glory in the future. Once the peak of the song hits, powerful “whoa’s” emit from Kensrue’s lips, woefully sending the track off towards the next.

 

19. The Earth Isn’t Humming (Alchemy Index: Earth)

As with all Earth tracks comprising the Alchemy Index quartet, “The Earth Isn’t Humming” takes a chilling, bare-bones approach to Thrice’s songwriting, sacrificing the usual harder hitting instruments for acoustic guitars, and even a banjo. The five minute play through creeps along over gorgeous harmonies and an impressive 6/8 time signature.

 

18. Under A Killing Moon (The Artist In The Ambulance)

Thrice’s early works were much more abrasive and in your face than any other points in their discography, and represent the overall scene of post-hardcore staples at that point in time. What set their sound apart was Teppei Teranishi’s incredible riffing and tapping guitar carrying song forward at breakneck speed. “Under A Killing Moon” takes full advantage of this technique, complete with Dustin Kensrue’s multi-track harmonies, and amazing screaming vocals to conclude the song over an honest to goodness breakdown, rare for the band with respect to their entire catalog.

 

17. The Earth Will Shake (Vheissu)

Channeling both old post-hardcore fervor with quiet shrieks, “The Earth Will Shake” is an awesome vision of the sheer power of a band well versed in experimental breakthroughs in Vheissu, fitting given the apocalyptic nature of the song. Dustin Kensrue induces chills down the spine, reciting “We dream of ways to break these iron bars” at the songs beginning, as well as it’s build up to a wailing onslaught of screams. The execution evokes imagery of an army huddled around a burning fire in the waning hours of the night.

 

16. Paper Tigers (The Artist In The Ambulance)

Thrice’s most aggressive song falls in the middle of The Artist In The Ambulance‘s track lasting. HOW FUNNY IS THAT CONSIDERING THE SONG HAS THE WORD “PAPER” IN THE TITLE, AND PAPER IS TYPICALLY FRAIL AND LIGHT! It’s true, being a heavy fan favorite among purists, and full of harmony and hardcore combinations. The added tempo change makes for a nice touch in the pre-chorus, letting us all know that Thrice’s technical chops aren’t lacking in the midst of a raucous wave of energy.

 

15. Come All You Weary (Alchemy Index: Earth)

Another acoustic number along the Earth personification of the Alchemy Index, Thrice again utilizes the “dust we are made, and dust we return” imagery, evoking a sense of defeat in the lyrics. Boasting a powerful chorus where electric guitar, organ, and drums join the ensemble, Dustin Kensrue churns out steadfast hope like many times before, shouting “Come, all you weary”, a beautiful message to the faint of heart and broken people.

 

14. To Awake And Avenge The Dead (The Illusion of Safety)

The most complex of any The Illusion of Safety number, “To Awake And Avenge The Dead” exists in two stages, as a breakneck riff-fest of raw energy, and then as a brooding breakdown. Thrice doesn’t often transition to such an obvious moment of double bass pedal drumming and screaming, but I don’t blame them for doing so here, because it throws the audience for a loop, and it’s awesome because of it!

 

13. The Sky Is Falling (Alchemy Index: Air)

“The Sky Is Falling” is probably Thrice’s catchiest song, at least in terms of the chorus. Keeping in line with the aviation themes of the record, Dustin Kensrue evokes imagery of sheer terror and disarray, complete with cries of the very title of the song. “The sky is falling, and no one will lift there eyes to see”.

 

12. All The World Is Mad (Beggars)

No stranger to opening tracks, I usually find greatest artistic merit in a band or performer’s ability to set the tone for their music, and sure enough, I am getting there with Thrice’s body of work. Beggars begins with a track bordering on alternative rock, further completing the evolutionary cycle of Thrice’s outputs up to this point. It is immediate, catchy, and wrought with insightful lyricism. Lines like “We are saints made of plaster, our laughter is canned, we are demons that hide in the mirror” roll right off of the tongue with such suave grace.

 

11. The Artist In The Ambulance (The Artist In The Ambulance)

One of a few live show calling-cards, “The Artist In The Ambulance” is just begging for audiences to sing along. Not only is the track a staple of any Thrice bill, but it also carries relatable themes of brokenness turned to risen ambition. For a song filled with so much doubt, the real victory is in the narrator’s optimism. Not only that, you can’t help but feel a sense of relief and joy listening to such glorious melody.

 

10. Firebreather (Alchemy Index: Fire)

On The Alchemy Index‘s “Fire” portion, it was apparent from the get-go that Thrice still were holding onto glimpses of their post-hardcore upbringings, as tracks like “Firebreather” would suggest. In fact, much like Vheissu highlights, the song exists not only as a booming statement of instrumentation existing in musical nirvana, but it also progresses into a glorious choir-like outro of shouting voices over the ultimate heaviness in the sound.

 

9. Silhouette (The Artist In The Ambulance)

“Silhouette” is Thrice’s best System of a Down impersonation, not necessarily with respect to vocal ability or musicianship, but more for their knack for writing songs in C minor. Powerful and hard-hitting, the song mellows down to a grinding raise of electric guitar before a yelling screech in the song’s chorus. It is a heavy song like most of the album’s songs, but better exemplifies Kensrue’s ability to switch from soft to loud and everywhere in between as a vocalist.

 

8. Yellow Belly (Major/Minor)

Maybe Major/Minor never quite clicked with me on a personal level like Thrice’s body of work before it, and perhaps the opening guitar line on lead single “Yellow Belly” comes off as a little cheesy, but you can’t deny the funky tone in the guitar makes for an interesting kick-off to the band’s “final record” (no longer their last record). As it goes, Major/Minor rocks a little harder than Beggars, and this is the band’s opening statement that they still can get loud.

 

7. The Great Exchange (Beggars)

As on many Beggars tracks, Dustin Kensrue’s biblical imagery is front and center on a myriad of tracks on record, but what is special about “The Great Exchange” is its beauty as one of their slower numbers. There is beauty and ruin, Kensrue has made that clear. Even better, the song leads right into another statement in Beggars‘ closer, the self-titled track.

 

6. For Miles (Vheissu)

Epically diverse, and infinitely filled with charisma, “For Miles” begins solely with a complex, arrpegiating piano interlude that continues throughout. Funny, since the song eventually tears a new one with strong fervor, Dustin Kensrue eventually turning to bold screams of sheer terror. As the piano sinks into the background, so the guitar’s are passed the torch. Truly an epic if there ever was one.

 

5. Deadbolt (The Illusion of Safety)

If anything about Thrice gets someone riled up, “Deadbolt” is probably as immediate a track to get someone pumped. The Illusion of Safety is full of post-hardcore classics, but amidst the beating snare drums and screaming vocals, the track slows down in a flash, revealing a haunting piano to take it forward on the record. This is a glimpse at Thrice’s knack for experimentation and morphing time signatures in their songs, fully fleshed out on later outputs.

 

4. All That’s Left (The Artist In The Ambulance)

If “Stare At The Sun” wasn’t your first exposure to the band on SSX3, perhaps their other The Artist In The Ambulance single, “All That’s Left” caught your ear on Madden NFL 2004. Still wrought with wrenching guitars and fierce drumming, this track let’s the yelling in the vocals take a backseat for a few minutes, and instead lets Dustin Kensrue flesh his talents out as a singer, hitting high harmonies all thoughout the song.

 

3. The Whaler (Alchemy Index: Water)

“The Whaler”, like most of The Alchemy Index: Water allows for Thrice to craft songs with a different picking of intruments, with this track in particular utilizing an electronic piano to create a sort of “20000 Leagues Under The Sea” sort of vibe. As if the song weren’t beautiful enough with it’s haunting darkness and breathy vocal performance, the multi-part harmony that concludes the track makes it a top-5 portion of Thrice’s discography all by itself. Gorgeous!

 

2. Wood And Wire (Beggars)

“Wood And Wire” begins with a little electronic ditty that continues over steady drumming and feedback-laden guitars. The track tells a compelling story of a man void of any possession in life, innocent yet locked up, sort of like a Shawshank Redemption sort of scene. Dustin Kensrue takes the religious route in describing what hope even lies in store for such a character. Even the most downtrodden individual in this life has steadfast hope to hold onto. There is life beyond the flesh and bones of our human form. An endless glory still remains.

 

1. Stand And Feel Your Worth (Vheissu)

Songs like “Stand And Feel Your Worth” give me goosebumps just at the mere thought of them. If the call of open arms to purpose driven life aren’t testament enough, take the outro’s down key change into account, in addition to Dustin Kensrue’s most powerful screams on record to date. Vheissu is widely considered the band’s most influential record, if not their best, and masterpieces like this make it easy to see why this sentiment reigns so clear in the minds of fan’s everywhere.

 

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