Forget the genre labeled in my title… Call it post-hardcore, punk rock, rock, pineapple, coffee house, doesn’t make a difference. We’re talking about music here, not word games. And the fact is that this music is great. From the opening dissonance of “Kill Me Quickly,” you’re being lifted up, ready to free fall through the world as seen by Thrice. This opening track wastes no time, nor does it say more than it needs to. The music derives its impact from simplicity, and the space between sounds, when you can hear the propulsion of the drums. The lyrics are emotional, honest, and pained; yet they are never forced or juvenile in delivery or context.
These ideas set the tone for Illusion of Safety as a whole. Thrice goes for the power of simplicity throughout much of this album, exercising the musical skill of restraint. This is not a show off album by any means. However, this only makes the most intense moments stand out that much more. The guitar runs in “A Subtle Dagger” carry the listener perfectly into the roaring finish. The opening of “Betrayal is a Symptom” builds without a major swell, until Dustin comes in like a storm with his unique yell. The screamed vocals never get aggravating; they are neither piercing nor an obnoxious low roar. Rather, Dustin approaches vocals like a man yelling out to the world, singing with conviction. The honesty is readily evident in all of the album, notably “In Years to Come,” a song about dedication, love, and sacrifice, as well as on “To Awake and Avenge the Dead,” a lament of a death and the feeling of spiritual closeness and searching.
Literary allusions are frequent, a common trait with Thrice, such as “The Red Death,” based on Edgar Allan Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death.” These allusions, and the overall educated nature of the album, never feel forced or overdone. The album blends strong metal influence (once again, not playing the genre game) with some contemporary “punk” influences to create a truly unique blend, one much more successful than many other bands that have pursued a similar blend. It is this mastery of styles and writing that has always held Thrice high up in the field of modern music. The Illusion of Safety is smart, balanced, heavy, beautiful, honest, and most of all, human.