For many, Thursday has, for the past half-decade, been viewed as a band that peaked too early (their accepted watershed accomplishment being 2001's Full Collapse). The two full-lengths that followed have been, by and large, only mediocre affairs -- bolstered by major label money, but lacking the depth, passion and sophistication that landed them there in the first place. Their move away from a major to Epitaph puzzled some and was viewed as an admission of defeat by others, but it's Geoff Rickley & Co. that are going to have the last laugh: Welcome to the renaissance of Thursday.
Taking cues from unlikely recording/touring partners Envy and Circle Takes the Square, the band has greatly widened their sonic palette; what formerly resembled a seedy basement show now appears as a vast, sun-scorched expanse filled with everything from gurgling electronics ("Circuits of Fever") to scathing, scraping post-millennial emo-violence ("Last Call") and virulent prog-rock of mammoth proportions ("You Were the Cancer"). Strains of Rickely's high profile side-project United Nations can be heard in "Friends in the Armed Forces"' bulldog façade -- guitars alternately soar and snarl as he shrieks and spits in the foreground about America's wartime lie and the lives its cost. First single "Resuscitation of a Dead Man" and "Unintended Long Term Effects" resuscitates the winning formula -- hush-to-gangland scream vocal dynamics delivered over megaton riffs and rhythms designed to crumble mountains -- they last displayed on Full Collapse. Simply put, Thursday haven't delivered an album that crackles with inspiration and invigoration, that sounds so incredibly vital, in the better part of a decade, if ever.
Less cloying than A City by the Light Divided and more cohesive than War all the Time,
Common Existence is the band finally living up to the promise of their sophomore effort, creating the dark sonic netherworld Rickley has been formulating in his head for nearly a decade now. For too long they've been unjustly lumped in with the emo crowd, and despite the fact that they never seemed too bothered by it, tangibly, there has always been something clawing below the surface -- something bigger, bleaker and altogether more sinister. The demons they've battled may not have shown in front of howling crowds on the Warped Tour, but they've been resoundly beaten and the siege has been put to tape here (by producer du jour Dave Fridmann) as an aural document of the slayings that have brought Thursday to this, their finest hour.