Most fans of post-hardcore will tell you that the genre hit its apex somewhere between 2000 and 2006. Those were the genre’s golden years, the days when acts like At The Drive-In and the Blood Brothers were the main Warped Tour attractions instead of All Time Low and Brokencyde. It’s 2011 now, and most of those post-hardcore veterans are either broken up or only occasionally releasing records. These are the days of scene queens, not feedback and screams, which means that when a good post-hardcore album comes along, it becomes a beacon of hope to modern hardcore fans that there’s an alternative to Bring Me The Horizon. Thrice’s latest, Major/Minor, is one of those elusive, much-needed types of LPs: urgent, aching and filled with heaviness—like pouring-liquid-steel-into-a-cast-iron-mug-and-chugging-it-straight heavy.
Opener “Yellow Belly” makes this clear with miles-thick layers of murky rhythm guitar, occasionally punctuated by lead guitarist Teppei Teranishi’s furious, white-hot riffs. “You don’t care,” yowls lead singer Dustin Kensrue with just the right note of longing, though the song’s effect is the exact opposite—an auditory blow to the jugular and a dismissal of fans’ fears that this record would be a sequel to the uneven Alchemy Index EPs. Major/Minor is arguably the band’s heaviest record yet, with peak after peak of crunchy, grungy goodness—the hyper, math-rock-y “Blur” and the soaring “Cataracts” being just two of the highlights.
There are plenty of experimental-style ballads, too, to break up all of the mammoth choruses. “Words In The Water” is a song, fittingly enough, about reading a book while drowning—the grim subject matter punctuated by a relentless, never-ending drum roll and gloomy reverb. And “Disarmed” is a satisfying closer detailing the exhausting end of a relationship, complete with a terrifically cathartic (and upbeat) end solo. If this is the direction in which Thrice is heading—taut, reflective and heavier than ever—then maybe post-hardcore really isn’t dead. If the genre one day makes a triumphant return (and there are no doubt thousands hoping for that day), then the members of this California quartet have certainly reserved their place as kings.