Major labels must have been dozing in class the day their teachers covered the wisdom of philosopher George Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." How else to explain nü metal, which amounted to little more than the mutated hellspawn of late-'80s hair bands? Or today's musical climate, where suits snap up thrift-store-shabby indie bands the way anyone sporting plaid and Doc Martens could earn a record deal a decade ago? At least the post-Nirvana boom birthed some intelligent music with staying power -- a tradition new-millennium signees Thursday and Thrice look to perpetuate. The Island labelmates are more MENSA than mullet (Thrice singer-guitarist Dustin Kensrue liberally quoted Emerson in a recent Alternative Press
story) and have the brawn to back up their brains. Thursday's major-label debut, War All the Time
, sold more than 73,000 copies in its first week; it debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard
album charts in September, on the strength of the post-screamo liftoff "Signals Over the Air." Thrice's The Artist in the Ambulance
combines the best bits of socially conscious punk, hardcore, and metal into a pummeling maelstrom of IQ-raisin' rock.