1 June 2016

Thrice - To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere

Thrice are a band that I have been advised about for many moons, but until recently I have never actually heard (at least not knowingly).  Again, you can see the amount of bands that I (& the other bloggers on here) review in a year that sometimes we miss bands and artists.  In the case of Thrice, by the time I first heard of them in 2014, they were in hiatus after performing from 1999 till 2012.  Over that time, they had released eight studio albums, two live albums, five EPs and two compilations albums.  That is a good body of work by any bodies books, no matter which way you look at it.  So after all of this time, you might be wondering why I decided to check out this album.  Well, I happened to hear the song "Black Honey" which was released as a single, whilst I was looking for songs to play on my radio show.  Without wanting to give my opinion before the main section of the review, the song engaged my attention straight away and was included on the next show.  After that initial impact I have been sort of playing catch up over the last few weeks in between reviews, trying to get up to speed with Thrice before they released this album.  But it is now released and I have my copy in the house next to me, spinning away as I review this.  I have to say, the artwork for the vinyl is spot on and I love the attention to detail, it looks absolutely beautiful and the photographs are fascinating.  So it is time to find out how the album has turned out? Well, let us find out......

Starting the album "Hurricane" which starts with a strumming of an acoustic guitar and then explodes in a post hardcore/grunge noise that does not explode, but it certainly brings a fair degree of drama to the proceedings.  The song is about a relationship that is hit by conflict and the search for a solution (or sanctuary) from the destructive forces currently circling them; musically it changes between gentler verses and loud chorus section, with a slow and methodical drumming that aide in the sudden changes when required.  As an opening track, it is one that is easy on the ears and that reintroduces the band to their fans by showing that they are still capable of creating a fantastic song and for newbies (such as myself after a quick crash course) it is a dynamic and interesting song that can make the hairs on your neck stand to attention.  "Blood On the Sand" follows on, this time dealing with fear and how it can make humans do things that in a normal and rational made would seem so illogical.  Lyrically it is a hard hitting song, it does not take any prisoners and it shows tension can be exploited and make people act so out of character.  Musically, it is very catchy with a heavy bass rumbling throughout the song and the distortion peddle is never too far away to add some dynamic to the song as well with a mixture of grunge and post hardcore sensibilities.  "The Window" is a song about being given to new experiences beyond what you know, about having a light shined onto what you know and trying to make sense of the new and explain it to other people.  It is played out that the person in the song already knowns that there is more than one room, messages on the wall, the fixations with the light coming through the curtains and the realisation that the writing on the wall is in his own hands.  Once again, it is a dynamic post hardcore piece, relying on heavier chorus sections and lighter verse, as well as different time signatures for the verse which are more frantic to the chorus which are full of hope and in a standard 4/4-time signature.  "Wake Up" is a song about the fight about being lazy and letting the world take more and you giving less.  It is something that I am sometimes guilty of myself, so I can identify with this song on many levels.  It once again the band have lent the quite/loud dynamic, which the employ with brilliant effect.  At this point, nothing has really exploded out of the box, but each song (including “Wake Up”) cannot be accused of being predictable and boring – so far, so good!

“The Long Defeat” (a phrase borrowed from “The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien) is a song about is a song about fighting a long and gruelling battle that you can never hope to can victory, just small periods of grace and sunshine before the inevitable passing and death.  The music suits the mood of the song, it is not a song of pleasantries and sunshine, but there is hope in the lyrics and even though there is an awareness in the music and lyrics – you can sense the fighting spirit of the band.  It is such a gem of a song, a beautiful and fragile number that can stand tall next to any of the band’s catalogue.  Next is a brief interlude song called “Seneca” which acts as a short rest bite from all of the drama and of the first half of the album.  It is a nature coda to “The Long Defeat”, but over so soon and it could have been expanded.  The following song is the one that started my interest in this review – “Black Honey”.  The title has a lot of meanings, it could be about the greed that surrounds oil & money, the culture of take that surrounds humanity and the inability of some people to understand why they are attacked when all they do is take or it is a metaphor to the foreign policy of the USA (but to be honest, it could be any Government of the world – the UK itself is hardly blameless).  The lyrics are so simple, but some of the most effective I have heard in many years; but it is backed up with the best Alternative Rock song of 2016, I cannot see anything changing that and I say that after releases from some of the supposed royalty of the genre.  That riff, the clear guitars, the bass that hits the heart like a shockwave, the drums which add to the drama and the vocals all combine to make a perfect storm which takes this band to greater heights.  It was this song along that made me pre-order the album, it still has that initial impact with each listen and I reckon it could be my personal top song of 2016. 

But it is not all downhill from here, not one bit as the band follow up with “Stay with Me”; this song deals with a couple who are thrown together by a war and one of them is questioning what will happen after everything is said and done.  It really could be about most situations that couples can face from time to time, but I understand the story behind the song.  It is a beautiful little number, with a certain degree of pleading and fear in the mix of love and tenderness.  It takes the drama back a little, it is still there in the lyrics a little bit; but it is the post hardcore gentle touch reminds me of Far/Jonah Matranga a little, with a subtle edge to some of the phrases and it is just the right step for the album – everything has a place and this song is placed perfectly.  “Death from Above” is another condemnation of the American war machine, this time about drone attacks and the effects it has on the pilots and the victims of the attacks.  It is a damning story, the music is as chaotic as the lyrics; it is all edgy and angular with sharp choruses, slower and verse and some periods where the mind just gives out due to the sheer amount of stress and pressure on the subject.  I like the song, but it is the only one which I have not full clicked with – still a damn good number though, but it is a grower.  The penultimate song of the album is called “Whistleblower” which deals with people who have let out the secrets of our Government and their spying techniques, it is another protest song that contains an important message.  Musically, it is as good as anything else on this album with a great riff that gives the song a dual life – one as an important anthem against the people in power and that they should be held accountable for their actions, plus it can also be a song that you can lose your shit to when it is played live – a win/win situation. “Salt & Shadow” ends the album on a sombre note, musically it is very different from anything else on the album.  With a sound that is akin to the more melodic moment of the last album by Anathema, it deals with being disconnected from the world or a situation; be it a bad friendship, a broken relationship, awaiting the sad passing of a loved one or having to deal with arseholes.  There is a fractured beauty to this song, it is like a broken mirror that has the sunlight hitting it and you can see the lights hitting the wall – it is pretty, but it is still broken.  It is the obvious ending track to this album, bring a curtain down in a very fitting way.

I think it is obvious that I am a fan of this album, I mean that it is one of the best Alternative albums I have heard so far this year and it just gets better with each listen.  Every track is a song that can be took on a few different levels, there is a fighting spirit to the music and it has some of the bravest lyrics I have heard in a while.  It is not afraid to wear its beliefs on its sleeve, it has some of the best riffs of 2016 and I am scared this is going to become the love letter of sorts to Thrice.  Long story short, this is a brilliant album and one that I know will be making my list of 2016 – check it out, you will not regret it & sorry it took me so long to get to the party.

10 out of ten – This is proof that there is a God

Top track – Black Honey

You can purchase To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere on Amazon here

You can visit the Thrice website here (there is also a webstore there, at the time of writing you can purchase To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere there as well

You can follow the activities of Thrice on Facebook here

You can stream To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere on Spotify here

You can stream To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere on Deezer here

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