Nobody does it better...

For me 'War All The Time' was always going to be one of the most eagerly awaited albums of 2003. Thursday's first two albums 'Waiting' and 'Full Collapse' were nothing short of magnificent and would both feature in a list of my all-time favourite albums, so this was always going to have a lot to live up to.

So does this album live up to its hype? Frontman Geoff Rickly recently described the album as "an art-rock album with no hooks", and whilst this may be the least immediate Thursday album yet, all of the elements that make Thursday so great are present and accounted for. The balanced interplay of Geoff and Steve's Jekyl and Hyde vocal attack combines to perfect effect with intricately woven angular guitar work on album opener 'For The Workforce Drowning', which was featured on a split 7" with labelmates and close friends Thrice. This song looks at the dehumanisation that occurs when you are a slave to the nine-to-five routine "we'll get up and drive to work, in single file, with everyday just like the last, waiting for life to start". This theme of personal examination is one that runs deep throughout the album, with the harrowing 'Tomorrow I'll Be You' looking at how Rickly dealt with losing a close friend in a car crash.

Recording the album provided a much needed focus for the band, after a turbulent time of broken relationships and label disputes, culminating in Geoff being diagnosed with epilepsy after having blackouts on stage. Despite these troubles, the recording process helped the singer look at issues from a different perspective, and this new viewpoint allowed the songs to be written with a more positive outlook. This ability to find a silver lining in even the darkest cloud is displayed in 'Marches And Manouvers', where Geoff, after a painful break-up with a long-term girlfriend, can conclude that "after time, all this will heal".

Thursday have overcome what has been a stumbling block for many bands by successfully negotiating the tricky transition to a major label, and aptly demonstrate that you can sign to a major and still retain both your musical and artistic integrity. They have once again created an uncompromising, intelligent, passionate record, and have re-inforced their status at the forefront of the melodic hardcore scene, showing why their near perfect blend of heartfelt emotion and gut-wrenching aggression is often copied, but rarely bettered.

So does it live up to its hype? Absolutely.