February 27, 2024

New Fury Media

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On ‘The Artist In The Ambulance’, Thrice proved to be some of post-hardcore’s best songwriters

If you’re even slightly familiar with Thrice, you know that they’ve shifted their sound over the years multiple times. From their early years as one of melodic hardcore/post-hardcore’s most exciting acts to their experimentation with electronics, ambient soundscapes, and many other genres of music, Thrice is likely your favorite band’s favorite band. Or close to it. Held in high regard, at the very least that’s the story so far.

On 2003’s The Artist In The Ambulance, though, they became part of the major label explosion of post-hardcore, melodic hardcore, and emo of the early-2000s. Thrice’s third full-length was a quantum leap in terms of songwriting and accessibility. Their first on a major label, that status didn’t dilute the quality of the music, either – they just had a lot more backing behind them than their previous work. And it didn’t disappoint.

This album is filled with songs that have high impact, no matter the tempo. It’s also filled with songs that are immensely singable. The title track, in particular, manages to be both accessible as well as lyrically sound, while “Stare At The Sun” and the ominous “Silhouette” are usual concert staples for a pretty good reason.

It’s also filled with jaw-dropping songcraft and musicianship that manages to stand out, even among their talented peers. The C.S. Lewis-referencing “The Abolition Of Man” explodes with unexpected Riley Breckenridge drum blasts, obviously on the heavier side of things. Tracks like this, “Under A Killing Moon”, and opener “Cold Cash And Colder Hearts”, and “Paper Tigers” also do the same, and are more familiar to fans of their previous album The Illusion Of Safety. While the entire record showcases the band’s prolific musicianship for the genre, it’s these faster, heavier tracks (with THICC AF bass, so awesome!) that prove to hit hard.

The closest thing to a true “splash play” comes in two forms. The catchy single “All That’s Left”, which appeared prominently in Madden 2004’s soundtrack (thanks, major label!), and the metaphorical story on “The Melting Point Of Wax”, a story anyone who’s ever taken a true “leap of faith” into the unknown. Whether from an artist’s perspective or just an average person taking a chance on a new career move, the dive into the unknown is a relatable one, and while the song isn’t particularly aggressive in nature, it manages to stand out on its own in a record full of highlights, also proving that Dustin Kensrue is one of the more brilliant lyricists you’ll find around (if that wasn’t already apparent).

Much needs to be said about the album’s musicianship, in particular. The version of musical growth that Thrice underwent in between albums #2 and #3 can not be overstated. Guitar Teppei Teranishi, in particular, is a major highlight. Having one of the scene’s more signature lead guitar tones, he and Kensrue’s rhythmic sounds play off each other like seasoned veterans. Bass you can hear is always awesome, and considering the band’s background that’s rooted in melodic hardcore // hardcore punk, it’s even more impressive. When you blend expert-level musicianship with brilliant lyrics, it’s a huge formula for success.

TAITA is, at its core, a great bridge between the band’s early work – and the directions they’d later go. With their subsequent album Vheissu, they almost completely inverted their sound to something completely different, but still Thrice. The record, which peaked at #16 on the Billboard 200, remains their most commercially successful record. And it also helped fuel a massive creative well of inspiration to come. Genius, really.

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