Ladies and gentlemen, Thrice is back. Despite their hiatus announcement in 2012, they were adamant they would return. Now after a string of festival dates in 2015, we can behold Thrice’s ninth studio album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere. It’s been five years since their last studio effort, and some might have worried it would take some time to shake off the rust. That’s simply not the case. Not only is Thrice back, but they’re better than ever.
Thrice belongs to an elite category of bands that have had the same members devoted for the group’s entire existence. There aren’t many bands around these days that can make such a boast. Dustin, Teppei, Eddie, and Riley have been playing together for over 15 years, and TBEITBN shows just how adept they are at creating music together. Thrice has never been one to show off blaring guitar solos or mathy drum parts. Rather, they opt to sit back and quietly, yet expertly, fill in their respective musical pockets. It’s a true testament to the high caliber of musicianship each member possesses. This musicianship has been evident throughout Thrice’s career with their sound constantly evolving as the group has explored new musical realms. As if to make an assertive statement for their return, Thrice has released what is arguably their heaviest album ever.
The opening riffs of “Hurricane” reveal Thrice isn’t holding anything back. Almost the entire record is Thrice as loud and raucous as ever. In addition, the songs carry a weightiness to them that perfectly align with Dustin’s lyrics. “Black Honey” and “Death From Above” contain some of the darkest moments on the record and create an unsettling feeling along with Dustin’s indicting lyrics. “The Long Defeat” and “Stay With Me” bear the most major tonality, which create a musical oasis in between the brutal, hectic nature of the record. The only relief from the barrage is the closing track, “Salt and Shadow”. The timid song sticks out in comparison with the rest of the record, and it would fit right in with the Air EP from The Alchemy Index. It may seem an abrupt change of pace from the rest of the songs, but give it time, and it’ll prove a worthy closer to this powerful record.
Lyrically, TBEITBN packs just as much of a punch as the music. It’s the most externally focused album Thrice has released since The Artist in the Ambulance, and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time. The title of the record comes from a letter penned by Seneca the Stoic over 2000 years ago, yet it applies so well today. The theme of the album is brilliant, and Dustin poetically weaves the lyrics of each song to fit inside the scope of the title. Dustin’s poignant writing primarily target the hate and fear that is gripping our society, which are best evidenced in the lead single, “Blood in the Sand” and “Wake Up”. “Hurricane”, “Stay With Me”, and “Salt and Shadow” balance the record with a more individual focus. While Dustin has consistently been incorporating more spiritually influenced lyrics on Thrice albums since Vhiessu, “The Window” and “The Long Defeat” are the only songs that fall under this category. Dustin admitted to writing more straight-forward on this record. While it may throw longtime fans off at first, the subject matter present needs to be conveyed directly. If you’re still apprehensive, just soak in Dustin’s vocals until you’re convinced. His gravelly voice is the strongest it’s ever been for Thrice, and it perfectly matches the musical intensity of the record.
There’s never a guarantee a returning band will be able to continue the same quality of work they became known for after some time away. Despite their hiatus, the Orange County group hasn’t lost any steam. They’re clearly a more seasoned and mature band, but they haven’t lost any of their edge. Their typical level of experimentation may not be as apparent, but the borrowed chords in “Hurricane” and the 7/4 time signature in “The Window” reveal Thrice’s creative wheels are still violently churning. To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere is as powerful a return as fans could hope for from Thrice. They’re off to a magnificent start from their hiatus, and it seems to only be the beginning.