The Alchemy Index: Vols. III & IV Air & Earth marks the completion of Thrice’s foray with experimenting with the four elements of nature. Overall, the newest Alchemy Index displays Thrice’s explorations with instrumentation, rhythm, and feel. The album consistently moves from expansive arrangements into acoustic etudes. As well, Thrice delves into the world of blues, folk, jazz, and dance, while continuing to strengthen their trademark sound. The record, in its attempt to explore each element with an EP of six songs, contains many successes and a few failures.
Volume III: Air establishes a mood and feel most similar to past Thrice records such as Vheissu. This EP is definitely stronger than Volume IV: Earth and appears as a wonderful direction where Thrice may be headed. Air utilizes atmospheric guitar lines and effects, soft piano strikes, and a locked-in rhythm section beautifully depicting one’s serene flights on the edges of the sky. "Daedalus" stands out as a track with introspective guitar leads behind a story of a father losing his son. The track concludes with a touching verse displaying Dustin Kensrue’s ability to connect with the listener. Air reiterates Thrice’s skill of experimenting while not compromising their sound.
On the other hand, Volume IV: Earth feels awkward and beyond the capabilities of Thrice as a band. As expected, Earth takes an acoustic folk/blues approach to each arrangement. Most often, the songs feel clumsy and like an acoustic version rather than a creation. Earth appears that a possible statement into humanity’s continual disconnection with the natural world was squandered. The EP takes a more expansive approach when it should have taken a simplified stance. Although its limitations, "Come All You Weary" stands out as a well-played, bluesy track. Kensrue’s gravelly vocals cut deeply into this road-wandering song. Thrice made the right choice as it is their first single off this record. Volume IV: Earth does contain a few gems but, all in all, sounds like a misrepresented element.
Ultimately, The Alchemy Index: Vols. III & IV Air & Earth successfully continues Thrice’s approach into progressive and popular music. The strength of the album’s better tracks surely outweighs those of the weaker kinds. Thrice chose to venture outside of its safe haven and the listener will find worth in their exploits.