Overtly ambitious musicians open themselves up to ridicule when they shoot for the stars and fall short — but their attempts can pay dividends anyway. Witness The Alchemy Index, a multi-part magnum opus released by Thrice, a quartet joined on this date by Circa Survive and Pelican. Dustin Kensrue, Teppei Teranishi and brothers Eddie and Riley Breckenridge draw upon the four elements in ways that Earth, Wind and Fire could never have imagined, even rendering the imagery of each sequence's final cut in iambic pentameter. Sure, couplets like "While Guernica in peaceful valley lay/And Dresden dreamed of anything but death," from "The Flame Deluge," seem like the work of a high-school senior trying too hard to impress his Honors English instructor. By pushing themselves both lyrically and musically, though, the players hit numerous highs in addition to the lows. And if their aim is better next time around, they'll have their misses to thank.


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