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Thursday

War All the Time (Island/Def Jam)

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Between its intensity and subtlety, Thursday's 2001 breakthrough album, Full Collapse, bristled with friction. Its wiry, scrappy slices of pounding post-hardcore were driven as much by vocalist Geoff Rickly's blood-curdling screams as they were by sneaky bits of melody.

Jumping to a major label for Collapse's follow-up didn't change the combative nature of Thursday's tunes; if anything, War All the Time is the sound of the New Jersey quintet challenging itself to reach new creative heights. The songs possess the basic Thursday traits -- guitar duels between epic chords and driving melody, and Rickly's even-keel-to-roiling-boil histrionics. But unorthodox hooks and intricate instrumentation make them much more than straightforward interpretations of hardcore, screamo, or even Thursday's past. Overwhelmingly more confident and urgent, War finds Thursday successfully battling its own stagnancy with brains and brawn, and soaring far above its emotional-rock peers in the process.

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