Rock n’ roll has been around for over sixty years, yet has evolved so much in this decade alone that the sub-genres are hard to keep track of. Sure, computers have made it easier for musicians to explore new techniques but not all have been successful at mastering it. Thrice burst out in the scene in the early 2000s when the OC metalcore scene was at its prime. A lot of those bands are still around today sounding the same as no time has ever gone by with different members. Dustin Kensrue, Teppei Teranishi and brother’s Riley and Eddie Breckenridge are celebrating twenty years and their tenth album overall with their first for Epitaph, Palms. The Orange County, Calif. natives have progressed and evolved to an impressive quartet, keeping fans satisfied.
The atmospheric ‘Only Us’ starts off with a powerful riff and vocals before Riley percussion picks up—almost as Beggars (Vagrant) has been living in the Upside Down. ‘The Grey’ as first single represents the album well and is drenched in punk aggression like earlier album Vheissu (Island). The bass lines by Eddie are hauntingly metallic.
‘The Dark’ with its choppy intro is slower, enhanced by Kensrue’s smooth vocals. This is a special track on the album as Thrice included cameos of fans singing along to the chorus seen on the lyric video. Kensrue’s chilling performance here mixes well with the Brekenridge brothers’ rhythm keeping on a smooth groove. ‘Just Breath’ picks up the pace and Riley delivers smoldering drum fills. The drums alone make the song happen. ‘Everything Belongs’ brings in the piano. It lives beautifully in the center of the album with its synthesized beat and the vocal melodies melting so nicely with the musical harmonies. Kensrue’s range here is at its best.
Each track implores the listeners to find themselves in musical imagery. ‘My Soul’ is crafted with slow bluesy melodies that live in a cloud between a ballad and a powerful statement. ‘A Branch In The River’ begins with a fast guitar riff right in your face. They bring back their grittier roots to this one reminiscent of The Illusion of Safety (Sub City) days—its somewhat emo. it’s somewhat hardcore and Teranishi’s guitar work here is superb. Clearly, he has mastered the art of the riff in the twenty years of Thrice and really brings this song to life in the bridge.
‘Hold Up A Light’ introduces distorted guitars that pave the way to a more structured set of riffs as Kensrue makes his vocal introduction. It’s hard to pick a best song in this album but this one is definitely a top contender. Thrice experiments in this album but they excel well in that with ‘Blood On’. A little less than two minutes of just guitar and vocals set up the final dynamic track ‘Beyond the Pines’. Beneath all those years of experimentation comes mature lyricism to conclude a great album.
Over twenty years, Thrice has pushed the stylistic boundaries of alternative/hardcore. The discography is different—no album has been approached the same and the outcome has always been satisfying. It makes no sense how a band can create ten albums that sound different but have a signature tone to them that is recognizable to only their name. Palms remains true to Thrice’s beliefs while they grow and improve as artists.