While the number of youthful groups of men in form-fitting T-shirts performing pensive, often anguished post-hardcore music punctuated with arty lyrical references has become overgrown and/or ridiculous in the past few years, New Jersey's Thursday deserves props for putting all of its fragile eggs in a huge, well-appointed major-label basket. War All the Time, its Island debut, arrives grandiose and gatefolded, with moody, urban impressionist artwork and a thank-you list that lasts for miles. Helmed by longtime Thursday producer Sal Villanueva and mixed by Rumblefish, the album rocks on the dynamics between singing and screaming, between rage unleashed and thoughts cast inward. Lyrically, the band's earnestness is admirable. "In the spring, you will bloom, like her heart"; "We'll douse ourselves in gasoline and hang our bodies from the lampposts" -- coupled with musings on suicide and life's never-ending grind, vocalist Geoff Rickly and his mates are providing diary material for 10,000 lonely teenagers. But despite its righteous gospel, startling dynamic shifts, and hurtling minor-chord choruses, War inevitably begins to resemble one long, 40-minute song. Touches of programming, plenty of overdubs, and some piano do help to separate things, especially on the raw, dirge-like "This Song Brought to You By a Falling Bomb," a respectable brother to U2's "October." But an identically spiraling guitar line twists its way through both "Asleep in the Chapel" and "Steps Ascending," and despite his emotional delivery and obvious erudition, Rickly's bloodied-knuckle lyricisms start to run together over the endlessly crushing mid-tempos. The framework of the new, thinking man's hardcore movement that Thursday marches in is guided by the principles of its martial predecessor. Uniformity in style and the common themes of disaffection and social rebellion have always rallied the youth around the records. But as more and more groups climb out of the steadily glowing underground embers and bask in the glow of major-label fireworks, that signature sound is becoming dangerously homogenized. Credit Thursday with an album that doesn't dilute its lyrics or fervor. But in the quest for a new musical rebellion, the song is starting to remain the same.
Review by Johnny Loftus