Out Now: With ‘Horizons/East,’ Thrice Pulls the Floor Out in Search of Answers, Finds Beauty in the Chaos (Listen)

Adrian GarroCategories:Latest News

Rock Cellar Magazine

Horizons/East is not the album some Thrice fans will be hoping to hear.

That this sentence could be written about a number of previous releases from the Orange County, Calif.-based band — and isn’t exclusive to this new album  — speaks to the work the group has put in over the years, expanding its sound and progressing well past its punk/screamo origins.

Exemplary of the creative leaps they’ve made throughout their discography, that’s about as complimentary a sentiment as could be expressed about Thrice in 2021.

Thick synth tones accentuate “Color of the Sky,” for example, which begins the record in dramatic fashion, vocalist/guitarist Dustin Kensrue’s raspy delivery recalling how “My first and foremost memory/is staring up in wonder at the wall,” before lyrically tackling concepts of seeking truth amid the confusion of life.

The album was released on Friday, Sept. 17, on digital platforms ahead of a physical release on Oct. 8, via Epitaph Records.

Click here to pre-order Horizons/East on CD from our Rock Cellar Store
Click here to pre-order Horizons/East on LP from our Rock Cellar Store

Horizons/East is the 11th studio album from Thrice and the follow-up to 2018’s Palms, and is, in a word, ambitious. The band — Kensrue, guitarist Teppei Teranishi, bassist Eddie Breckenridge and drummer Riley Breckenridge — are clearly all on the same wavelength, and it’s one of assertiveness. Take “Scavengers,” the first track debuted from the album, which has a lyrical theme especially close to Kensrue (more on that in a bit):

In the song, Kensrue is addressing head-on the ghosts of his past, so to speak, prior experiences in a realm outside his “day job” (in this case, religious music for a church organization from which he quickly grew dispirited and has spoken out about after his departure), as well as other relevant topics. Said a news release regarding the rawness of “Scavengers”:

For vocalist Dustin Kensrue, the song is – but also kind of isn’t – a thing of the past. Whether lost in a media diet that is essentially a disinformation pipeline or, relatedly, trapped in fear of a future of eternal conscious pain, Kensrue speaks of “toxic worldviews I once inhabited,” and in truth, “a lot of people that I love are still in that place.”

There’s an experimental leaning to several songs on Horizons/East, with the eerie vocal layering on “Buried in the Sun” reminiscent of the band’s pals in Manchester Orchestra, Kensrue’s lyrics referencing the Department of Defense, the CIA and so on (seemingly inspired somewhat by recent events in the United States). It’s sure to be a hit in the live setting.

The same can be said for “Northern Lights,” another standout held up by a driving bassline, emphatic piano plucks, Teranishi’s proggy guitar line and a soaring chorus about “building a better world.” It’s very unlike anything Thrice has laid to tape thus far in its decades-long career, while at the same time filled to the brim with the group’s strongest elements.

“Northern Lights,” in a sense, is perhaps the perfect mission statement for Horizons/East as a whole. Wistful, hopeful lyrics, a fresh reinvigoration of the band’s signature sound and an urgency and immediacy that swell and churn into an irresistible surprise.

“Summer Set Fire to the Rain” was also a pre-release track more in line with Thrice’s last few records, but with a unique rhythmic sway that pairs with the specific identity of this era.

Other highlights include “Still Life,” which may call to mind the band’s sprawling Alchemy Index releases, and “Robot Soft Exorcism,” its title referencing the works of author/educator David Dark and a Radiohead-nodding exploration of the institutions that we all take for granted as part of our collective “normal.”

Thrice’s creative well clearly plenty fertile, it’s hard to listen to the final track, the haunting “Unitive/East,” without anticipating a second chapter in this saga. The album’s title alone would suggest it (given the “East” and its presumed foil, “West”), and the chant-like sounds of the closing song would work perfectly as a bridge to wherever the band goes next.

Here’s hoping that destination is as resoundingly impressive as Horizons/East, one of the strongest creative statements made by Thrice in a career filled with them.

Stream the album below.

Catch the band on the road this fall in support of the album:

September 24 – Houston, TX – Warehouse*
September 25 – Dallas, TX – Gas Monkey*
September 26 – Austin, TX – Emos*
September 28 – Atlanta, GA – Masquerade – Heaven
September 29 – Nashville, TN – Cannery
October 1 – Orlando, FL – Hard Rock Live
October 2 – St Petersburg, FL – Jannus Live!
October 4 – Charlotte, NC – The Fillmore
October 5 – Norfolk, VA – The NorVa
October 7 – New York, NY – Terminal 5
October 8 –Baltimore, MD – Soundstage
October 9 – Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore
October 10 – Boston, MA – House of Blues
October 12 – Buffalo, NY – Town Ballroom
October 13 – Columbus, OH – Newport Music Hall
October 15 – Detroit, MI – Saint Andrews Hall
October 16 – Cincinnati, OH – Bogarts
October 17 – Chicago, IL – Concord
October 18 – Sauget, IL – Pops
October 20 – Denver, CO – Ogden
October 21 – Salt Lake City, UT – Union
October 23 – Portland, OR – Roseland
October 24 – Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo
October 26 – Berkley, CA – UC Theater
October 27 – San Diego, CA – Observatory North Park
October 28 – Phoenix, AZ – Marquee
October 29 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Palladium
October 30 – Anaheim, CA – House of Blues

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