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When THORNHILL first began to properly infiltrate the metalcore scene with their debut EP Butterfly back in 2018, most people had them pegged as one of the genre’s brightest sparks. Then came The Dark Pool a year later which solidified that thinking. Here was a band doing all the simple things right, mixing heaviness with aching ambience and laying down a serenade of soaring vocals alongside raging screams. Their trajectory seemed inevitable; another album like that and surely they’d begin to cement themselves as a figurehead.
But it seems that the Australians had absolutely no interest in playing it safe. While they have already demonstrated their willingness to push the envelope, their upcoming effort Heroine only heightens their sense of progression. They’ve swerved so far from their aforementioned trajectory that you can almost hear the tyres screech, but far from turning blindly into the night they have written an album that feels like it will finally begin to define who they are. At its core the same band is omnipresent, yet this record is so much more than an exercise in progressive metalcore. Essentially it is a homage to Hollywood’s glamorous history, drawing inspiration from a whole plethora of classic films ranging from Singing In The Rain to American Beauty.
Far from simply being a celebration of cinema however, these influences are subtly mixed within their music, be it through the James Bond-esque breakdowns of Casanova, or the broodier, more nostalgic offerings such as Valentine, which begins with the comforting crackle of a needle skipping across a vinyl record. Such a chasmic goldmine of inspiration has opened up endless possibilities for the band, but this also feels like their biggest risk. As with most ‘concept’ albums, the skill lies in composition, and ensuring that these wildly juxtaposed ideas tie neatly together.
For the most part THORNHILL seem to have pulled this off. The structure feels natural and organic, even featuring an interlude in the form of Something Terrible Came With The Rain, a modern classical inspired piece which leads into one of the album’s flagship tracks, Hollywood. In this song we follow a protagonist coming to terms with being in love with a girl he’s just met while still being in a crumbling relationship. It screams movie plot and showcases the band’s desire to delve deeply into more abstract song writing and really challenge themselves. The whole thing feels like a soundtrack.
Musically they have also taken things up a notch. There are still breakdowns, the guitars grind with the same satisfying effect they always have, and Jacob Charlton’s vocals still reach dizzying heights, toying with falsetto before diving into harrowed screams. Yet THORNHILL have also borrowed the alternative rock instruction manual for this one, often echoing THE SMASHING PUMPKINS just as much as they do DEFTONES. At a time when every man and his dog are beginning to revisit that shoegazey nu-metal sound (here’s looking at you, LOATHE), it’s as though THORNHILL have agreed that that’s a cool thing to do, but it isn’t enough. With Heroine they have pushed themselves to the absolute limit and however it’s received, they must be commended for that.
Heroine is set for release on June 3rd via UNFD.
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