Fire, water, air, and earth; the elements of our planet, created by an amazingly unique God. I can think of nothing better to consume a bands time with. Thrice has done just that, they have created two astounding sets of music history. In late 2007 The Alchemy Index 2 & 3: Fire & Water came out and I immediately thought “that will definitely be in my top ten for the year!” Now, six months later, Thrice have created The Alchemy Index 3 & 4: Air & Earth.
The word alchemy defined means “any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into a substance of great value”. An index is a volume of works or a set of books being in a numerical or alphabetical sequence. The Alchemy Index, coming up with a title like that would take years of living in a convent discussing the meaning of life with Brother Obediah. The title serves as a glimpse into the genius that is The Alchemy Index and really does align itself with the Bible.
I refuse to define The Alchemy Index by giving it a genre. So, like Thrices’ myspace, I’m not going to go there. Air starts with a song that will lay down the foundations to all of Volume 3. “Broken Lungs” starts the album in a mournful tone, making me feel guilty and shameful with lines like “A fire burns beneath Manhattan and still we breath with broken lungs; but we act like none of this matters”. To me that screams of the fact that we do not help others when they are clearly crying out before us. By the end of the song (permit me to paraphrase Dustin’s lyrics) I’m feeling like I want justice, I want truth, but in reality the scales have not fallen from my eyes to see reality. The album follows that lyrical theme mixing ambient sounds, powerful rock chords, and effective vocal distortion throughout. I am surprised by the final track “Silver Wings” when it breaks off of the lyrical themes and slams me with the realization that I don’t know it all. It’s like God gave me a wake up call and, through Dustin Kensrues’ brilliant lyrics, said “After all of this you are amazed, that you are cursed far more than you are praised”. I’m humbled.
Earth follows a very down south almost country feeling. Musically Thrice has followed the feeling of lead singer Dustin Kensrue’s solo album Please Come Home. The folk/americana sound on Volume 4 is unmistakable. “Digging my own Grave” follows a lyrical theme of living with the vices the world throws at us. “Can someone else please save myself from me? Oh, Lord I know, I’m just digging my own grave”. Themes of despair and helplessness resonate through the vocals. Track 5 starts to change things again. The title, “Come all you Weary”, and the beginning lyric of track 6, “Dear prodigal son, you are my son…” speak of relief and of rescue. After experiencing what the world may throw at us, we can be encouraged of something much bigger and much holier than us. I’m encouraged.
You may wonder if Thrice is a “christian” band. After experiencing The Alchemy Index I really don’t think that matters. With words that speak to despair, guilt, redemption, and ultimately rescue is this “christian”? Maybe, but isn’t this what a hurting world needs, hope in something greater? Belief in the invisible? Realization of the inevitable?