"The Alchemy Index, Vol. 1 & 2"

(Vagrant Records 2007)Thrice - The Alchemy Index, Vol. 1 & 2

I just had a sweet idea. My fictitious band and I are going to record a concept album. Yeah, and then split it four ways, with one disc each devoted to one of the four elements. We'll double-package them and release two double albums. Wow, I am smart. I mean I even impress myself sometimes. Wait, what's that? Thrice already did that? Seriously? Damn it. Oh well, I guess that's just another file in the Broken Dreams folder. Anyway, here we have the fist two discs of Thrice's ambitious "Alchemy Index," complete with fire and water themes and all the awkward lyrics that entails.

Each disc has a distinct mood opposite the other and, predictably, "Fire" is the more aggro of the two. More varied and aggressive than typical screamo fare, "Fire" doesn't get mired in the clean verse/screamy chorus trap that could have been easy to fall into. Thrice burn through five tracks that have a "White Pony" era Deftones feel, before "The Flame Deluge" simmers in a haze of contained noise.

"Water" leaves behind the bombast of Volume I to drift down streams of electronic drums and programming, piano, and clean, cool vocals. "Digital Sea" washes over the listener with a relaxing low-key groove that's satisfying enough to forgive the goofy René Descartes name-check. "Night Diving" is an instrumental that finds Thrice making a valiant stab at Isis post-metal, sounding like a track that could almost be a B-side to, appropriately enough, "Oceanic." A pleasant, moody, chill-out, the only real downside to "Water" is that its only six tracks long.

So, is the double CD gag necessary? No. Could Thrice have put out one album with twelve tracks and two "sides?" Yes. But volumes I and II of "The Alchemy Index" are a science experiment that, for the most part, works. One has to wonder, though, what inspirations Thrice can draw on to shape the sound of the remaining two elements. Here's hoping "Air" will feature lush sonic soundscapes a la Enya, Enigma, or really anything from "Pure Moods."


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