Thrice have proven themselves to be one of the most promising new bands out there today. Their unique blend of emo/hardcore and Maidenesque metal is always compelling, and never disappoints. After being completely bowled over by their last release, “The Illusion of Safety”, I wondered if they could ever top such an immaculate collection of music. Well, with “The Artist in the Ambulance”, Thrice may very well have done that very thing.I have noticed that many have accused Thrice of “selling out”. They have joined Island records, and as such are no longer “indie”, and that combined with their recent break into the mainstream has led many to shun them, and dismiss this album as a sellout. However, this is nothing but a short-sighted, narrow-minded jump to conclusions, and couldn’t be further from the truth. First of all, who cares how “indie” something is? Since when does a band have to be “indie” to be good? One listen to this CD will surely confirm that Thrice have stuck to their guns, and haven’t compromised their creativity a bit. Rather than dumbing their music down to the mainstream (as many may have expected), they have developed and refined it, and it’s only made them better. The guitar work is even tighter than before, Riley’s drumming is even more interesting and complex, and Eddie is coming along nicely as a bassist. But if anybody really stands out, it’s Dustin. As good as his vocals were before, they’re even more amazing now. His clean vocals are smoother, and his screams more aggressive. The power and raw emotion that has always heavily manifested itself in their music has been increased tenfold here. From the slow crunching riffs of “Silouette” to the rapid-fire attack of “Under a Killing Moon”, to the lighter catchiness of the title track, every song hits like a ton of bricks. And, those complex rhythms in “Paper Tigers” will assure you that these guys are far more than some “whiny emo band”. It’s a bit difficult to describe the songs here, or on any Thrice album, because one of the most interesting characteristics of their music is that they can pack such a large amount of diversity into a 2-3 minute song. There’s so much going on that you can barely even comprehend it, leaving you to merely sit in inferior awe. I really can’t even begin to describe how fantastic this album is. You’ve just gotta hear it yourself. With the possible exception of Maiden’s “Dance of Death”, I have not heard a better album this year. Thrice are true artists, whose genius should set the standard for popular music as we know it. They deserve every ounce of recognition they get.