A heartening consequence of the infiltration of the mainstream by punk and emo bands is the abundance of groups who use their non-underground status to raise social consciousness, instead of just reveling in babes and booze. Heading up this gang of do-gooders are the screamocore wizards in Thrice, who have been at the charitable forefront for most of their five-plus years. The Irvine, California fivesome are veterans of the Take Action tour -- which raises awareness for mental-health issues -- and both their 2000 debut, Identity Crisis
, and its 2002 follow-up, The Illusion of Safety
, came out on the nonprofit independent label Sub City, a subsidiary of Hopeless Records that heavily supports charities. Even the group's major-label debut, 2003's The Artist in the Ambulance
, supports an endowment that helps provide free cancer screenings. Still, Thrice would not have been able to have such an impact without skills to match its good intentions -- and, as the uncompromising vocal jags, intelligent lyrics, and metallipunk riffs of Ambulance
demonstrate, their talent is as big as their hearts.