Thirteen times. East to West. That is how many times I have crossed this country. Having seen what this land has to offer. I love her majestic landscapes. After listening to Horizons/East by Thrice I feel the same about the soundscapes they sculpt. It is no different. I came by Thrice in the beginning with Identity Crisis and stayed until The Artist in the Ambulance and musically I departed from them. It was an amicable departure, I was just busy chasing a different sound. I then briefly showed my face again around The Alchemy Index, only to go back underground and indulge in other harder sounds.
Horizons/East is a culmination of their previous works. At first listen it is hard to pinpoint where to place it musically. It wasn’t until my second or third date with this album that I could hear her more intimate details. Once I heard it, I couldn’t stop envisioning it. Horizons/East is a heavy album in a way that only Thrice can make it heavy. Thrice’s cross between genres makes it hard to really label them and this album is no different than any of their musical blends before it. It is like changing gears; Thrice’s sound has transitioned.
Horizons/East is the soundtrack to a pensive long drive. Dustin Kensrue’s lyrics soothe your bitter, angry soul with images of the Northern Lights, wonder, horizon colors and vast spaces. Listening to this album makes you feel like you are somewhere driving from your problems. The album as a whole has an airy feel to it. It plays to your sense of awe. Kensrue’s imagery only adds to this awe-inspiring openness.
The album starts off with what I will call “electronic eagerness” that eventually fades into melodic guitar work that carries the album through its highs and lows eventually ending on a more chaotic progressive-ish note. Because Horizons/East is a shmorgishborg of Thrice’s greatest pieces it is hard to place into a certain genre. This is not a bad thing; it shows the band’s diversity and ability to control their music in a way that younger bands can’t.
One thing that struck me was the driving bass that is prominent in most of the songs. After hearing it in “Scavengers,” I could not unhear it in almost every song. I am funny and I like certain songs because of their guitar sound. I love this album in particular because of the bass guitar.
I am a sucker for some good ol’ post-hardcore. One of sounds that I love about old hardcore bands, that have given into their more melodic tendencies, is their driving baselines. There is something about that aggression, that building, that grinding that they put into beautiful melodies. Thrice is no different. Two good examples of this come in “ Summer Set Fire to the Rain,” and “Still Life.” “Summer Set Fire to the Rain” starts with it’s driving guitar and baseline only to pick up with the chorus. It keeps its pace then at about 2:05 everything drops and you just have Kensrue and some muted guitar picking. Then it starts building, almost pushing and grinding with gritted teeth your face into the mat, until it crescendos with a sound that is very reminiscent of something from Thrice’s Artist in the Ambulance era.
“Still life” sounds like it could be a track off an album by Renee Heartfelt. It has that driving, ever present bass that is beating life into the song. Kensrue’s light airy vocals dance, no, almost float on the whiny guitar. Then, around 2:36 the urgency of the song changes. It is not that it really got heavier. There was no real chug, Thrice’s intensity changed. All those small things become more intense and hit and then, just like that, the sound dissipates. It wasn’t until after “Still Life” that I think I fully appreciated this album.
When I started listening I felt that I was owed something from this album. After hearing the second half, I realized that Thrice owed me nothing and it made me eager to listen to the first part again.
Overall, there is crafty guitaring throughout the album and it helps keep a medium heavy atmospheric sound. The album’s heaviness or chug doesn’t change drastically, it just grows busier. In the lulls of the album there are beautifully orchestrated electronica parts as well as somber piano. For having been cramped up for the last year and a half Horizons/East is a breath of fresh, liberating air.