Album Review: Thrice - 'Horizons / East'

17 September 2021 | 1:39 pm | Tiana Speter

"Thrice once again change the game by being unapologetically themselves, and 'Horizons/East' is a stone cold masterpiece."

More Thrice More Thrice

In their eleventh studio album outing, California rockers Thrice take glistening strides further into the alt rock territory that has come to be their dynamic want. 

Over two decades since their debut album Identity Crisis first announced the quartet to the world, large quantities of change have brushed the Thrice identity, with their earlier jaunts scratching at the surface of post-hardcore screamo, pop and proggy corners. They say change is as good as a holiday, and for Thrice, change has been the gateway to incredible new territories, with their brand new album Horizons/East embracing erudite experimentation alongside Thrice's trademark tender grit, groove and gruff likeability.

Opening track The Colour Of The Sky dabbles in celestial effects, aptly reflecting the album's cover artwork, before lead single Scavengers offers a beautifully crafted soul-shaker full of fluid instrumentals and the throaty brilliance of frontman Dustin Kensrue sprawled front and centre lamenting and challenging toxic worldviews. And from the fluid to more crunchy waters, Buried In The Sun bounces out next with stomping rhythmics, affable swagger and some glimmers of sonic gravel, before some dashing jazz leaps out on the piano-laden Northern Lights (an unsurprising addition, given the band's previous discussions of embracing jazz quartal chords during the Horizons/East writing process).

Up next, the enigmatic Summer Set Fire To The Rain toys with warmth and brawling cold, with some timely gang vocals playing against Kensrue's vocal whiskey and moments of poignant calm. And continuing on the poignant train, Still Life comes armed with some post rock bliss around the edges (and some pounding basslines), while The Dreamer ups the feels-factor, with emphatic vocals and creamy melodics sprawling amongst moments of raspy pathos.

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

Slowly starting to bring Horizons/East to a closer, the Radiohead-esque Robot Soft Exorcism takes a huge sonic swerve from what's come before it, with a swoon-worthy vocal turn from Kesrue amongst some meditative instrumentals. While the track is entirely a slower offering from the Orange County rockers, it's a tantalising diversion that keeps the Horizons/East journey sharp while demonstrating the unparalleled flair Thrice have keep burning for over twenty years. And in case you needed any more proof as to the quartet's penchant later in their career for ongoing experimentation, the desert rock-coated Dandelion Wine plays out like a hazy fever dream, before closing track Unitive / East busts out some beautiful Impressionism chaos, as muddled pianos scatter beautifully against brooding harmonies in this entirely non-rock outro.

To pass Horizons/East off as a mere rock album is to do it and Thrice a great disservice; ultimately, this is an amalgamation of skill, audacity and boundless beauty that riffs as much as it ravishes with purpose and brawling finesse. While Thrice have journeyed far beyond their punk and heavier origins, they continue to find ways to inject a rock and roll spirit with meaning and stunning evolution. 

Thrice once again change the game by being unapologetically themselves, and Horizons / East is a stone cold masterpiece.