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Heavy yet melodic art rock

Thrice - Beggars
(Vagrant Records)
3 stars (out of 5 stars)
Reviewed: Dec. 18, 2009

Review by Tony Bonyata

Following the releases of The Alchemy Index over the last two years (a series of four EPs, each representing an element of nature; earth, air, fire and water), the California rock band Thrice recently released their seventh album entitled Beggars. On it cofounder's Dustin Kensrue (vocals/guitar) and Teppei Teranishi (guitar), along with the rhythm section of brothers Eddie (bass) and Riley Breckenridge (drums), return to a harder and more visceral sound more akin to their earlier recordings (albeit not quite as hardcore) than of their last two efforts, which even Eddie admitted to the OC Register that they had more of a 'sleepy feeling' to them.

Beggars is anything but 'sleepy' as the quartet unleashes these sinewy rock numbers - complete with attacking guitars and shape-shifting time signatures - that finds them taking '70s prog-rock sensibilities and updated them into contemporary art rock. The album kicks open with a chugging rhythm on "All The World Is Mad" as the two guitarists spar off with one another before Kensrue's passionate and forceful voice bemoans over the demise of human morals, "We do unspeakable deeds, does our wickedness know any bounds? Something's gone terribly wrong with everyone. All the world is mad." While many of the other numbers are spiked with similar energy and melodrama, the overall mix ebbs and flows quite nicely, as witnessed on the hauntingly melodic "Circles," "The Great Exchange" and the dual personality of "Talking Through Glass/We Move Like Swing Sets" which storms out of the gate with unbridled energy before morphing into a hushed and muffled ambient-like music that could put even Brian Eno into a trance.

Thrice may never crack through to the mainstream, but as long as there are music fans out there that like a bit of experimental art rock mixed with muscular riffage and powerful vocals set amid vast sonic soundscapes - that at times can feel like an endless frozen tundra and, at others, a cramped claustrophobic space - then these guys will always have a faithful following.

Related articles:

Livewire's exclusive interview with Guitarist/vocalist Dustin Kensrue of Thrice
Dashboard Confessional / Thrice / Get Up Kids - Concert review - Rosemont, IL May 2004
The Deftones / Thrice - Concert review - Milwaukee, WI Dec. 2003

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