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Thrice-The Artist In The Ambulance

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Old 06-06-2006, 10:37 AM
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Thrice-The Artist In The Ambulance

The Artist In The Ambulance

1.Cold Cash And Cold Hearts
2.Under A Killing Moon
3.All That's Left
5.Stare At The Sun
6.Paper Tigers
7.Hoods On Peregrine
8.The Melting Point Of Wax
9.Blood Clots And Black Holes
10.The Artist In The Ambulance
11.The Abolition Of Man
12.Don't Tell And We Won't Ask

Before the release of “Vheissu”, multiple Thrice fans were not only expecting, but also wanting a rendition of their 2003 album, “The Artist In The Ambulance”. Upon the issue of “Vheissu”, many fans that had not heard the statements of Dustin Kensrue were put off guard. “Vheissu” was a major change in the legacy of Thrice. Each song was written first on the piano by Dustin, who took as much time as he wanted to craft each and every one to his liking. Some aficionado’s were upset by this change, but most took to the transformation with heart and appreciated Thrice as much they did before. In fact the only real complaint that they had was the weakness of the guitar parts, no solos basically. I’m somewhat ignorant to the fact however. “Vheissu” was my first full taste of Thrice and I became taken to it quite quickly and I still think that it is a superb record. Sooner, or later I knew I would have to further explore into the history of Thrice. What better way to than purchase the one album almost any person would say was “Vheissu’s” better: “The Artist In The Ambulance”?

Thrice seemed to be a yearly band up until 2005’s “Vheissu”. The band first formed in Irvine, California circa 1998. A year later they self-released their first album called “First Impressions”. Yet another year later they sign to Sub City Records and then went on to release, “Identity Crisis”, which didn’t create a lot of attention for the band. Not a group to slow down the very next year they followed up “Identity Crisis” with “The Illusion of Safety”, which is when they really started to gain in popularity. Anyone who had been a fan of them for the last couple years were probably not surprised when “The Artist In The Ambulance” was released a year after “The Illusion of Safety” was. 2004 didn’t see much in the form of releases for the band, but 2005 saw a DVD released from the band covering their history up until that time and then their latest album, “Vheissu”. They’ve changed their sound over the years starting out with more punk and metal influences, but slowly they have become more experimental over the years, with the latest album more than showing that.

What is most noticeable about “The Artist In The Ambulance” is that Dustin screams a lot more often than on “Vheissu” and the music itself is much more hardcore oriented, but also takes into the account of a poppier styling. While some songs remain constantly heavy, some songs do not. “All That’s Left” is one of those songs. There is barely any screaming on the track and the tempo often shifts to that of a slower one at times. The chorus offers one of the more soothing and melodic parts of “The Artist In The Ambulance”. This is the one song that exemplifies how much of a great singer Dustin is for all of the record, which is why it was a wise choice to be a single because it showed what great songwriters Thrice were too.

Flow is one of the greatest things the album has going for it. From beginning to middle to end the record never gets boring. One of the main standouts, “Cold Cash and Colder Hearts” swiftly opens “The Artist In The Ambulance”. A fast drumbeat and heavy guitar riff with Dustin shouting is how the song begins, but gradually drifts to a much slower tempo and then returns the speed it had started out with. Even though some songs are too short and can’t display the great song writing in each, this does. So does lead single, “Under a Killing Moon”, the song directly after “Cold Cash and Colder Hearts”. The drumming is at its strongest here because it’s the driving force of the whole song. The song may be catchy, but it’s hard to believe this was a single for “The Artist In The Ambulance”. I say this mainly because of the last third of the song where there is an impressive, but not mainstream friendly breakdown.

If there were a ballad on “The Artist In The Ambulance”, “Stare At The Sun” would be it. It makes sense in a way because during the time of writing this album Dustin was still questioning his religious beliefs and “Stare At The Sun” seems to have been an outlet for him. “I see the parts, but not the whole / I study saints and scholars both / no perfect plan unfurls / do I trust my heart, or just go in my mind / why is truth so hard to find in this world” The bass particularly stands out more than it does on other songs, but one song that has great bass parts is “Hoods On Peregrine”, which I consider the best song. The bass is only part of why the song is so great. Each instrument, including Dustin’s voice, unites to make one jaw-dropping song. Each element the band showed before is ultimately combined in this. The guitar even stands out by playing slow, but wonderful licks. The title track, “The Artist In The Ambulance” sticks out considerably because it’s a lot more poppy than the rest of the album. It almost reminds me of Taking Back Sunday, but actually enjoyable. The guitar chugs along at times, which is uncharacteristic of the album. Overall, it’s a fantastic pop-punk song, but ultimately can’t compare to the heavier tracks.

One headscratcher that I don’t understand is how one could accuse Thrice of containing horrible lyrics. They may not be the best, but they aren’t terrible. Dustin writes them in an almost poetic way. “The Melting Point of Wax” contains what I believe are some of really fine lyrics. “I’ve waited for this moment all my life and more / and now I see so clearly what I could not see before / the time is now, or never and this chance won’t come again / I throw caution and myself to the wind / there’s no safety on these second hand wings / but I’m willing to find out what impossible means / A leap of faith / a parody of an angel / miles above the sea / I hear the voice of reason screaming after me / “you’ve flown far too high boy now you’re too close to the sun, soon your makeshift wings will come undone”” The use of strings helps to elevate the status of this song to superb, but Dustin’s singing assures it.

“The Artist In The Ambulance” is considered by many to be both influential and necessary. I can certainly see where the people who say that are coming from, but I disagree with them. Only those who are musicians themselves would understand how well that this album is written. Almost anyone else would think “The Artist In The Ambulance” was slightly repetitive, even though it’s far from it (“Cold Cash and Colder Hearts”, for example). The fact is that the members of Thrice limit themselves on this record. They could easily have branched out to make the record better. The fact that “Vheissu” has one less song than this, but is ten-minutes longer plainly shows it. Still, “The Artist In The Ambulance” does successfully combine hardcore and pop punk (some may call it post-hardcore, I would be inclined to agree). There are no filler songs to be found and everything flows smoothly making for one fantastic record. This may be because I heard “Vheissu” first, but even though I think this is an ultimately wonderful album, I still think it could have been much more than it is.


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