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Horizons / EastThrice

Returning with their 11th studio album, the dynamic and explorative California-based rock band Thrice announce Horizons/East, out September 17 via Epitaph Records on all digital platforms. The album exemplifies art as a work of recognition — the human task of perceiving oneself amid details, disasters, and blessings as a relentlessly relational phenomenon, among others. In this, Horizons/East is the rare rock album on which interrelatedness is a theme, painting an adventurous and lush landscape mixed by Scott Evans, that the band self-produced and recorded at their own New Grass Studio.

The powerful new single, “Scavengers” is out today here. Over a dark and intricate braiding of guitar and drum grooves, the lyrics challenge us to discern the issues and information that bonds us versus what disintegrates and destroys. For vocalist Dustin Kensrue, the song is – but also kind of isn’t – a thing of the past. Whether lost in a media diet that is essentially a disinformation pipeline or, relatedly, trapped in fear of a future of eternal conscious pain, Kensrue speaks of “toxic worldviews I once inhabited,” and in truth, “a lot of people that I love are still in that place.”

To emerge from a global pandemic with a renewed sense of situational awareness, hard won insight, and a new album is the kind of move we’ve come to expect from Thrice over the last twenty years. With Horizons/East, Kensrue and his bandmates address, with candor and courage, the fragile and awkward arrangements that pass for civilization, while inviting us to dwell more knowingly within our own lives. Without surrendering any of the energy and hard edge of their previous albums, they’ve given us a profoundly meditative work, which serves as a musical summons to everyday attentiveness.

Some of the writing even began with open-ended challenges that the band laid on themselves like building a song using the quartal chords they found in much of the jazz they loved, or taking the Fibonacci sequence and turning it into a guitar riff.

Thrice seems ever eager to step out into these spaces unknown to them, unsure of where their feet will land, and this new record is no exception. Horizons/East is a soundtrack for deeper dreaming.

Horizons / East album artPurchaseSeptember 17th, 2021

Discussion

Jason Gordon

Thrice successfully return with ambitious 11th LP: "Horizons/East" Album Review and First Impressions

September 7th, 2021

With "Horizons/ East", Thrice have returned with their 11th studio LP and one of their most ambitious releases to date. Over their past few outstanding albums, the band noticeably departed from their more experimental, mid-period artsier and atmospheric material for a more straightforward rock sound. Where songs on “To Be Everywhere Is to Be Nowhere” and "Palms" lent themselves to more radio-friendly, accessible rock anthems and the occasional ballad, “Horizons / East” immediately starts off with a sound more reminiscent to that of the “Alchemy Index” series––and it’s probably no coincidence. 

The first track, “Color of the Sky” pulsates with a slower, electronic / synth based intro, exploring new musical landscapes, with a steady build that sounds massive once everything fully kicks in. Drum machines are back, and any longtime fan might recall the sounds that were more prevalent on the Alchemy Index’s “Water” EP. However, this go round, the band does not abandon the loud and melodic sensibility we’ve all come to love in Thrice, as the opener's chorus brings back a familiar sound from their more recent LPs with a catchy, and anthemic chorus, showcasing Dustin’s classic vocal style accompanied by Thrice’s trademark harmonies. 

“Scavengers” kicks in next, reminding us of what we loved so much about the last 2 LPs; dark, pulsating, groove-laiden, heavy rock, with hooks that will get stuck in your head for days. And while there are few other tracks less distant to the heavy grunge/alternative rock leanings of their more recent LPs, songs like “Northern Lights” once again showcase Teppei’s technical guitar riffs, with a delicate, jazz-like piano backdrop, bringing something entirely new and unique to the table, once again, pushing their sound in a new direction. The album is full of sharp new turns and varied dynamics, showcasing several new layers and sonic soundscapes not heard to this degree on a Thrice LP before. “The Dreamer” even reveals for the first time a guttural, spoken word vocal style from Dustin, over a slow heavy groove, reminiscent of bands like La Dispute or Mewithoutyou, but entirely more accessible. And when you least expect it, the verse builds and transitions once again to a melodic and hook-laden chorus in trademark Thrice fashion that sounds massive. 

“Robot Soft Exorcism” is another example of the band pushing its boundaries, seamlessly combining an odd time signature with melodic sensibility, clean guitars, and an almost electronic sounding break-beat, before it kicks in with layers of distortion leading to another massive chorus showcasing Dustin’s masterful croon at its best. And although there is more experimentation throughout the album, Dustin's knack for writing sharp hooks and huge melodies is still fully intact. There's a great mix of genre-bending songs throughout, and while “Dandelion Wine” might remind us of songs like “Beyond the Pines” from Palms at times, the drumming feels more intricate, the bass lines more scattered, the music more dramatic, dynamic, and explosive. By this point, the album has fully sunken in and it’s evident they have produced something truly special with "Horizons/East."

As a long-time fan of their more experimental sound while also loving the heavier more straight-forward rock approach they’ve taken on recent releases, it’s refreshing to hear Thrice combine the best of both worlds in a cohesive well executed album. I’d go as far to say that “Horizons/ East” might be their strongest album since Vheissu (one of my all-time favorite records), at least from my first impression, which is no easy feat. With this release, Thrice are sure to win over many new fans while pleasing old fans as well. Rumor has it that a "Horizons/West" will also see light of day, and if the band continue to push their creativity and songwriting like they have on "Horizons/East" there is no telling what is in store. All I know is I’m here for it and anxiously await to see what’s next. In the meantime, I'll be spinning this new album on repeat in the coming months and can't wait to catch their live set at Riot Fest this month.