Thursday - Common Existence

TC 17/02/2009

Rating: 3.5/5

Thursday have been around now for over a decade and carry a 'post-hardcore' label or even 'screamo' if that sounds more palatable for you. Their direction has wavered a tad over the last couple of albums and the most recent of those, “A City By The Light Divided”, got a rather sceptical reception, even by their not insubstantial following; just touching the Billboard top twenty and not even getting into the 100 over here.

This, their fifth studio album, certainly sounds solid enough and displays an exceptional level of accomplished diversity. The core sound remains brash of course and, despite the diversity, this set will be preaching to the converted to a certain extent. 2003's “War All The Time” remains the band's high point and perhaps that year was also peak time for their niche genre in general, with Thrice leading the gang back then. The latter's more recent dive into progressive self-indulgence could have marked the end of an era had “Common Existence” not been coming along.

Hence, I detected an air of nervous expectation ahead of this and there will be some followers who have probably already decided to fall by the wayside. My fear is that there will be few others who jump on board to replace them. That said, I rank this album highly, mainly because of its blatant conviction and showcasing of a band who know what they're about, yet feel comfortable enough to add some experimentation. They are more than proficient at their art and, unlike Thrice, stay relatively true to the cause.

One of the band's trademarks has been their complexity of sound, mixing sheer drive with graceful melodies and that remains in good stock here. What has been bolted on is a sense of adventure, stretching them into other arenas (my ipod flags them as “indie”!). There are songs like “Time's Arrow' and “Circuits Of Fear” that surge with landscaping melody, yet when they hit the pedal on “Last Call” and “Unintended Long Term Effects” the controlled aggression is delivered with true passion. The piece-de-resistance for me is “Beyond The Visible Spectrum”, an opus composition that serves to showcase the band's range of abilities to a tee - instrumentally flamboyant yet controlled and Rickley's highly-emotive vocalising has rarely sounded better.

Overall then, the set gels together neatly and is highly listenable even to the unbelievers. It is to be admired not least for the band's willingness to move on in a highly positive manner, rather than regurgitate past triumphs or veer off into obscure abandonment.