You´ll never know what you´re going to get from Thrice, this band is in constant change soundwise and the new album is no exception. They parted ways with Island records due to the differences about the band´s direction, their previous album "Vheissu" was more artistic compared to the more raw hardcore sound of "The artist in the ambulance". I guess Island records wanted a more radio friendly album than the artistic direction Thrice wanted to take, the music is more complex on "The Alchemy Index" but also a step back to the posthardcore of their earlier albums.
Vol.1&2 - Fire and Water is the first CD of 2 about this planet´s 4 elements, Vol.3&4 - Earth and Air will be out early 2008. Thrice planned on releasing 4 EP´s but decided on 2 CD´s instead where each cd is divided into 2 parts, the first 6 songs, "Fire" rocks really hard where the pompous "The flame deluge" stand out like the huge metal anthem it is.
Songs 7-12, "Water" are more calm and atmospheric and closer soundwise to "Vheissu" but also in the same vein as Dredg in some moments. Just listen to the beautiful "Lost continent", impressive is the word. It takes a few turns to get into this album so perhaps it will grow even more but I prefer "Vheissu" before "The Alchemy Index".