Rickly makes misery love his company
Thursday'War All the Time'Island Records
Sometime last year, the music industry decided the next grunge was not going to be garage rock (the Strokes, the Hives) but instead the rapidly growing screamo genre. Basically, it's punk with screaming and complicated guitar playing. Clever, eh? Anyway, labels are stupid, and since no one can really decide on one for the new batch of next big things (emo, screamo, emocore), it's pointless to try and call them anything.
Although the name's still up in the air, over the past year, major labels have been slowly injecting screamo bands into the airwaves. Although a few of them have received critical success (Thrice, Poison the Well) only the Used, thanks to incredibly catchy melodies and singer Bert McCracken's short stint as Kelly Osbourne's boyfriend and ensuing reoccurring role on MTV's "The Osbournes," has hit it big.
All of those other bands, though, are only the Pearl Jams and Soundgardens of screamo. If there's any band that is going to come out of nowhere and pull a Nirvana, it's Thursday.
There hasn't been a better time for a musical revolution since 1991, and the similarities between the times are nothing short of shocking. Right before Nirvana's "Nevermind" was released, horrible pop-glam-metal bands fronted by shrieking, high-pitched lead singers buzzing off Aqua Net fumes dominated radio and MTV. Today, pop-punk bands with enough hair gel to get David Lee Roth's mane to stick straight up are everywhere and multiplying at alarming speeds. "Nevermind" hit with such force that the leather-clad competition didn't stand a chance. Twelve years later, Thursday's major label debut is threatening to do the same.
"War All the Time" is nothing short of a masterpiece. To say it sounds like a war would be an understatement. First of all, anyone who thought Kurt Cobain had problems better make way for Geoff Rickly. Every song is a battle against another deep-seated personal demon. From atheism ("Asleep in the Chapel") to sexual discrimination ("M. Shepard") to blue-collar workers ("For the Workforce, Drowning") nothing is left untouched.
Then, there are the underlying political themes and constant references to death. "If this is serious, I'll hide my heart in dark parades, to dance between the scissors' blades without getting cut. I drew an X on your city's name, lights out, black out, blow out the candles again," goes the woefully catchy "Division St."
Rickly makes everyone else's life look like a walk in the park, a park with perfect weather, piles of unclaimed money and moving sidewalks to make things as easy as possible.
Rickly's misery swims in a sea full of minor chords and lingering keyboards. Distorted explosions of songs such as "Steps Ascending" and "Between the Rupture and the Rapture" threaten to blow out eardrums and change lives. Nothing this disturbing has ever sounded so good. On the title track, when Rickly sings, "I was 5 years old, my best friend's older brother died, he fell from these cliffs and the river washed him away," the melody lingers just as long as the message.
"War All the Time" is not an easy listen. In a time of political scandal and false identities it stands up and (literally) screams the truth at deafening volumes. It will amaze just as many people as it makes uncomfortable.
However, if things are really as bad as Thursday makes them out to be, it's already too late to please everyone. So find a bomb shelter, take a seat and get ready for impact. It's going to be messy.
(Five stars out of five.)
Luke Slisz is a senior at John Marshall High School. To respond to reviews in Sound &; Vision, call 252-1111, category TEEN (8336); write Teen Beat, Post-Bulletin, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903-6118 or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.