The Alchemy Index by Thrice
The Alchemy Index is a double concept album consisting of four parts. Each part is titled for and themed after each of the four elements, Fire, Water, Air and Earth. In case it isn’t already obvious, this is Thrice’s most ambitious project to date. Initially it’s also a bit overwhelming with 24 songs in total and musically spans at least four different genres. But time proves this project works both in its individual parts and as a whole.
On part one, Fire, Thrice return to their post-hardcore roots, but with new found maturity. They unleash a fury of blazing guitars and crushing vocals, embodying the kind of fire you’d imagine barreling down a mountain side, consuming everything in its path.
Without missing a beat Thrice transition to their softer side with part two entitled, Water. They chose to go with an almost completely electronic sound, which is somewhat ironic, but works perfectly. The music really gives the feeling of floating in a dark, endless sea.
Air probably most represents Thrice at the core of who they are. It’s the most straightforward of all the parts and musically is the least effective at conveying the characteristics of the element it’s named for. But for those reasons Air also happens to be one of the stronger parts of The Alchemy Index; it’s simply Thrice doing what they do best.
Singer Dustin Kensrue recorded a country/folk album a couple years ago and was featured earlier on my top 25 countdown. That album was clearly an influence on part four, Earth. It has nice organic feel, at times reminiscent of being in the mountains and other times it feels like being in a dirty old saloon.
Kensrue covers a lot of ground lyrically on The Alchemy Index. He writes about the elements both literally and metaphorically, but none of the songs are about the elements specifically. There are number of powerful spiritual themes as well as songs about life and a wide range of other topics. One of the most interesting lyrical aspects to this project is the last song on each part. Each of those songs was written lyrically as a sonnet and are told from the perspective of the element personified. Listening to them with that in mind adds a whole new depth to their meaning and demonstrates what an incredible writer Kensrue is.
Although The Alchemy Index didn’t make my top pick I have to say Thrice is by far my favorite band of the decade. They continue to reinvent themselves putting out one amazing album after another. I’m also consistently impressed with this band’s level of integrity, especially singer Dustin Kensrue and how open he is about his faith and his struggles.