Thrice – Beggars


Thrice - Beggars

Say what you will about Thrice, but the members have grown up. I’ve been following this band since I heard their first album Identity Crisis, and with each release they continue to amaze me. They are one of the few bands that has grown right alongside my growing musical tastes. Identity Crisis saw a young band exploring riffs and speed, in a combination thrash metal/punk sound. Their follow-up, The Illusion of Safety was slightly more grown up, albeit darker and exhibiting more of a straight up metal sound. The Artist in the Ambulance, though not a huge leap in styles, showed that the band was honing their song writing skills while crafting more intricate compositions and even adding math rock to the mix of styles showcased. Vhiessu was as unusual as its name, and became an experiment in post rock, mixed with post hardcore sounds. They even threw in some jazz and folk influences for good measure. The experimental and highly ambitious Alchemy Index¬†was a collection of 4 EP’s with sounds and themes corresponded with each of the natural elements. Now we are at Beggars, their most complete and cohesive album to date. Experimenting is present, but it takes a back seat to a simple philosophy: writing good songs.

The opener “All the World is Mad” is somewhat obvious. It has a heaviness to it that isn’t quite metal at all. It has a post-rock groove that isn’t quite rock. It is an obvious song simply because it sounds like what we’ve come to expect from Thrice after previous experimental endeavors. Songs like “All the World…” and “The Weight” carry with it tones from the Earth sessions and the vocal work by Dustin Kensrue is carried over from his solo acoustic work. His voice is rough and tumble, and the sound of both of these songs has a messy feel to them at first. Of course, subject matter varies – “All the World…” is a simple lament for the state of the human condition while “The Weight” is a love song, highlighting the importance of monogamy in a relationship.

“Circles” quiets the mood with an electronic and post-rock influence, giving guitarist/producer Teppei Taranishi a chance to let his piano skills shine in the lead up to the breakdown. Then, out of left field comes “Doublespeak”. The jazz groove used in the introduction and throughout¬† is something you’d be hard pressed to find in any other Thrice song before it. The explosion into a full on rock song doesn’t break the groove of the song at all – in fact it strengthens it thanks to Riley Breckenridge’s precision bass tones.

If you’re searching for the closest thing to older Thrice material, it would be in “At the Last” and “Talking Through Glass”. Both songs are very straightforward and their genius lies not in their edgier moments, but how they transcend their own conventions. “At the Last” is a grungy, shoe-gaze like rock number, while “Talking Through Glass” is an austere, yell infused opus. The title track closes the album with a slow burning, blues inspired number that sums up the collection perfectly and ends on a powerful note.

There are fans who still want this band to regress (yes, I said regress) to their original metal infused sound. After listening to Beggars, astute listeners will agree that this would be a misstep for the band as they are headed in the direction that they were always meant to. Fortunately, its exciting because there’s no telling where they’ll go next; something I find myself saying after hearing every album Thrice puts out.