Thursday – Split


The long rumored Thursday/Envy split is a gem. These veteran bands do what they do best: pack rich compositions with a lot of raw emotion. Maturity allows these bands to focus on range, song writing, and crafting dynamic sounds rather than aggression.

Thursday formed in 1997, and by 2002 they enjoyed heavy rotation on MTV. But soon the fan base retreated as screamo fell out of favor. A lot has happened since then – with the band and the scene – but Thursday sounds strong here, improved but not reinvented.

They take the first turn with “As He Climbed the Dark Mountain”. Frantic drums propel this track as Geoff Rickly delivers his homespun vocal – a bright, impassioned and often off key pleading. On this split, Thursday do little screaming as the band steps away from screamo towards a purer post-hardcore sound.

Next, “In Silence” kicks off with a beat and splashing cymbal. Piano and well-couched synths appear before a soaring, distant guitar. This sounds as much like a post-rock instrumental as it does a post-hardcore song. The track hits a groove and then reaches fruition in full-bodied guitars.

“An Absurd and Unrealistic Dream of Peace” delivers swaying dynamics as vocals return with another impassioned prayer. At 1:50, the track gathers steam as screams fill the dark space. The drama builds in the vocal, but this song’s strength is the guitar work, as figures develop and run their course.

“Appeared and Was Gone” is the second instrumental of the four Thursday tracks, featuring a simple piano figure that makes lots of room for the band to fill. By 3:30 in, the sound blooms and rushes out amid splashing cymbals and a nodding bass line.

But the best of this split is yet to come.

Japan’s Envy formed in 1992 to dominate Japanese hardcore and eventually achieve a national following. The band blends easily into post and art rock in the vein of Explosions in the Sky. Envy songs exhibit a penchant for Japanese storytelling – a cultural tradition characterized by musical accompaniment, visuals, and an emphasis on colors and emotions. Compare this with the West’s traditional focus on narrative and cause and effect relationships.

Envy songs are miniature epics that resolve in pop-inspired chord progressions.

Envy picks up on track 5 with the six-and-half minute “An Umbrella Fallen Into Fiction”. A crafted, clean guitar line rings and reverberates slowly, welcoming traces of clicking sticks, bass drum, and soft spoken vocals. The hush dies at the hands of a massive chorus. Envy’s vocals are standard – a basic, atonal hardcore scream. It can sound monotonous but can also be a fitting contrast to their songs’ savory hooks. “An Umbrella Fallen Into Fiction” might be the disc’s best song.

“Isolation of a Light Source” features raucous drumming and distorted, soaring guitars over a driving bass. At 1:00, Envy works into a groove, keeping a sense of urgency. The final track, “Pure Birth and Loneliness”, starts with a rolling snare drum over reverb-heavy, high-end guitar lines that weave a story above soft spoken vocals cushioned in the back of the mix. At 1:50 the song explodes as beginning, climax, and resolution converge.

These two influential bands hit stride here. Stellar production yields rich sounds assailed with raw emotions. These tracks are fully developed. No doubt, the vocals may grate on critics, but there are a lot of reasons to like this split. Especially Envy. Enjoy.