Sound — 10
Thrice are a constantly evolving band that have expanded their sound with each album and the first two volumes of the Alchemy Index is yet another sonic leap forward. The Alchemy Index is by far their most ambitious work to date, utilizing the concept of the four classic natural elements, Fire, Water, Earth, and Wind, in not only lyrical content but also in their sound. Fire, the first volume, is heavy and huge. Thrice use a lot of distorted baritone guitars, and fast drum beats on the majority of Fire. There is not a huge amount of screaming on Fire, but the screaming that is there sounds in no way forced or out of place. All the songs do a great job to represent fire sonically, especially the songs "The Messenger" and "The Arsonist", which don't let up for a second. Water, the second volume, is based around a lot of electronic sounds, clean guitars, and keyboards. The vocals are sung beautifully throughout and compliment the instrumentation well. The sound of Water is very "aquatic" and every song fits well with the Water concept. "Night Diving" is a six minute instrumental, which is very unusual for most bands of Thrice's calibur and it may even be Thrice's first if I can recall. It is the only song to feature heavy guitar work but flows in with the rest of Water. There isn't a lot of technical arrangements on this album but the experimentation that is here more than makes up for that and truely makes every song sound unique.
Lyrics — 10
Dustin Kensrue showcases some of the best lyrical work I've seen in most bands. His lyrical skill has increased just as Thrice's music has. Being restricted to keeping with the concept of each element Dustin still amazes with his words. Fire, for the most part, is pretty angry. Dustin writes a lot about revolution and rising above. In "Firebreather" he sings, "Tell me are you free in word or thought or deed", and in "The Arsonist" he sings, "I love this city I've set and numbered it's days, I love this city enough that I'll set it ablaze." Water is somewhat depressing and deals a lot in loss. The way Dustin sings is very heartfelt without sounding weak or thin. In the song "The Whaler", Dustin sings about a fisherman who is missed by his wife and daughter. "Lost Continent" is about the fall of Atlantis and ends with the words "The waters rising now; and we will surely drown, if we don't turn around." My favorite lyrical work in the Alchemy Index is the two sonnets at the end of each volume. Each sonnet is written from the perspective of it's respective element. "The Flame Deluge" is about how fire is abused by warmongers ("Ever since you found your taste for war, you've forced me onto those whose lives you'd take"). "Kings Upon the Main" speaks about the strength and skill of men is no match for the sea ("There'll never be and there has never been a ship or fleet secure against the storm").
Overall Impression — 10
The Alchemy Index Volumes I and II showcase the best of Thrice's musicals talent. Many Thrice fans stuck in the past may find this very obscure but the others who have grown up with them will find this truely amazing. This is a gem for any progressive music fan. My favorite songs from the Alchemy Index are "Backdraft", "The Whaler", and "Kings Upon the Mast". There is absolutely no filler on this album and every song has something special about it. If this were lost or stolen I would by 2 or 3 more to ensure that this album would be with me forever. The Alchemy Index is my NEW album of the year (previous one being Between the Buried and Me's "Colors".) I can't wait for the other two volumes, Earth and Air, in the spring. Keep making increbible music, Thrice!