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Thursday declares war

Michael Tennant | Wednesday, March 3, 2004

Thursday’s third full-length album brought with it the heavy burden of huge expectations from not only the band’s fans, but also from similar bands hoping they would carve a path into the mainstream which others could follow. After releasing two albums, including 2001’s hit Full Collapse under Chicago-based independent label Victory Records, the band signed with Island Def Jam Records, home to both Jay-Z and Bon Jovi. Even with the backing of a major label, these New Jersey punk/hardcore rockers refuse to forget their roots.On War All the Time, which was released in late 2003, Thursday stays true to the heavy yet emotional style that they are known for. The album is full of intense start/stop guitar playing interwoven around slower and deliberate melodies. Lead singer Geoff Rickly finds a near-perfect mix of low, quiet singing and loud emotional outbursts that should be described as screams, but often feel more like painful cries. The album starts with the musical equivalent of a punch in the face, as the first track, “For the Workforce, Drowning” begins with an explosion of crunched guitar chords. This same intensity is carried throughout the rest of the album, either by the guitar work of Tom Keeley and Steve Padulla, or by the poignant vocals of Rickly. Even the beautifully written piano ballad “This Song Brought to You by a Falling Bomb,” carries an energy about it thanks to Rickly’s unconventional and strained voice.Lyrically, this album showcases a more mature Thursday than the one that recorded their previous two albums. The lyrics are very poetic, as was the case with Full Collapse, but the songs on War All the Time have much deeper and usually darker meanings behind them. As the album title suggests, all the songs appear to revolve around some aspect of war. But this is not an album full of anti-war protest or pro-war rallying cries. Instead, Thursday uses war as a metaphor for battles in life, ranging from relationships to mindless violence and even suicide. One of the best songs on the album, “For the Workforce…” talks about people drowning in the corporate nine-to-five existence, waiting for life to start, all over a pulsing guitar and layered screams. It also includes an excellent breakdown at the midway point, leaving just the skilled drumming of Tucker Rule and Rickly’s vocals mixing with melodic guitar lines, all building up to the most intense moment on the album. “Signals Over the Air,” the first single from the album, also stands out. This song about communication and sexual identity confusion contains the biggest hook on the album. Long-time Thursday fans might see this as the band walking dangerously close to the line of mainstream radio rock. In actuality, the moving yet also disturbing lyrics coupled with skillful guitar work of Keeley and Padulla make this one of the best songs on the album.With War All the Time, Thursday has put together a quality album. The unconventional start/stop rhythm of the driving guitars along with the painfully emotional lyrics create an album that pleads for one to listen with the same intensity that the band put into the record. This is not background music. What it is, though, is a great example of why the New Jersey underground scene is so proud of them.

Contact Michael Tennant at mtennant@nd.edu