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Vheissu 
Artist: Thrice
LabeL; Island
Tracks 11 tracks

Vheissu arrives as a stunning piece of rock music. This is a cohesive, carefully constructed, inspirational opus of an album that crosses every rock genre boundary and sets Thrice up as one of the important acts of the new millennium. Thrice have always been hard to nail down. Prone to the guttural vocal gulder of post hardcore, they, nonetheless, heaped upon their volume lashings of melody and then upon that again Dustin Kensrue’s intelligent poetic philosophizing. There has always lurked a deftness of touch lyrically and musically in a genre where such softness might have been discarded as betrayal. Pleasing a narrow minded fan base though was never this band’s mission. The experimental side of their nature has always kept them fresh and dodging the pigeon holes. It is a unique combination of subtlety, clang and rhythmic eccentricity.

The use of that guttural gulder takes a very different sense when used by Thrice. In a rock 'n' roll location where bands spit out the rage and angst of a nihilistic negative view of the world, Vheissu is a confident exultant cry of hopefulness and belief. The opening Image of the Invisible is an anthem that will have rock fans chanting a positive groove into their souls. Hopefulness stretches across the entire album, never dodging the messiness of human experience but always believing that a transcendent something sets humanity apart and that faith and redemption is itching to get involved in the fray. 

On "Between the End" and "Where We Lie" the “grey that suffocates your soul” is smashed with daylight full of grace. 

"The Earth Will Shake" mixes a section of loud gulder with a sensitive evoking of the gospel singing slaves of the deep south. It is for the prisoner and slave who dreams of open gates and no alarms – “look to the day the earth will shake/These weathered walls will fall away.” 

"Atlantic" lilts softer and looks for another dream. 

"For Miles" sees a bit more screaming but is certain that “on that day all of the scales wills wing to set all the wrongs to right.” It is here where the core of all his declared. Kensrue has studied theology and is a fan of CS Lewis. His hope is founded in Christ who cannot be mistaken for the someone who is standing in your shoes, shedding his blood and “there’s no greater love.” 

"Hold Fast Hope" asks that you do just that.

"Music Box" is hymnal with it’s “we are not alone, we feel an unseen love/we are sons and heirs of grace/we are children of the light that never dims.”

"Like Moth To Flame" is the story of Peter, the disciple of Jesus, who before the cock crowed twice, denied Jesus thrice! It is a song in the midst of firm commitment that acknowledges our frail humanity. The despairing confession is where the gulder is darkest and most necessary. It is the darkest song here.

"Of Dust and Nations" is a prophetic shout into modern western society’s transposition of Church and Shopping mall. This is a warning against putting faith in materialism and our own constructions. It draws on Jesus words about building houses on sand that will crumble and takes his other advice – “don’t store your treasures up, with moth and rust/where thieves break in and steal.” In many ways rather than being out of date these words paraphrased from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount are even more relevant to a Thrice audience than to those who sat on the mount while they were spoken. The song then draws an image from the Genesis account of the Garden of Eden where God told Adam that the serpent would be crushed but would bite the heel. Gripped in the delusion of our own convoluted wealth the song asks – “pull the fangs from out of your heel/we live in but a shadow of the real.” 

The penultimate "Stand And Feel Your Worth" draws us back round in a circle to the opener. It is a Psalm littered in a plethora of Christian images “wine” and “ghost” and “grace” and “kneel” as the singer begins “Wake, stand and feel your worth, o my soul” and concludes “awed by grace, I fall on my face/and scream the word that can save is all.” It would have been an ideal climax to the album but…

"Red Sky" takes us on a John of Patmos Revelation of the consummation of time and eternity, God and humanity.

Phew and wow. It is a full on bombardment of light and positive possibility. It is unequivocally Christian which will no doubt (and already has) cause some heated debate in the post hardcore community who are not so used to their cool underground crash becoming the template for hymns, psalms and spiritual songs. Yet, we should not be so surprised. This is the year when Sufjan Stevens’ _Come On Feel The Illinoise_ will perch very high in most album of the year lists and U2 have been the biggest concert news across the world. The day is coming when people are coming to realize that Christianity and great art are not incompatible and on Vheissu Thrice give evidence that demands a verdict. 

Steve Stockman

Steve Stockman is the Presbyterian Chaplain at Queens University, Belfast, Ireland, where he lives in community with 88 students. He has written two books Walk On; The Spiritual Journey of U2 which he is currently updating and The Rock Cries Out; Discovering Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music. He dabbles in poetry and songwriting and he has a weekly radio show on BBC Radio Ulster (listen anytime of day or night @ www.bbc.co.uk/ni/religion/rhythmandsoul). He has his own web page--Rhythms of Redemption at http://stocki.ni.org . He also tries to spend some time with his wife Janice and daughters Caitlin and Jasmine.
  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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