The Australian metal scene is a literal hotbed of amazing talent that is influencing the four corners of the world right now and Melbourne’s Thornhill are the next to step up to the plate.
Their sophomore album on UNFD Heroine is a stark departure of angry angst ridden rage of previous releases as the band mature into a more cerebral, atmospheric oozing energy of emotion.
Opening number The Hellfire Club shows vocalist Jacob Charlton’s range, an almost angelic sway of weaving sounds over the softer, spaced rhythm scored by Ethan McCann.
It’s a theme that breathes throughout the album on tracks like Hollywood, an inhale of serenity, ambiance and soothing calmness as Charlton moves his vocals around the words before the bouts of exhalation of scratching guitars, emotive lyrics and rage such as tracks like Leather Wings.
Having the vocals as part of the mix instead of up front allows Charlton’s emotive enunciation of each word to become part of the music in the same way the great theatre actors of Coward and Gielgud use timing and phrasing to enhance their point.
Blue Velvet is an extraordinary example of this style and your mind is taken away to a dark room, neon lights glaring through the window and the journey ones goes through in moments of solitude.
Musically the band stretch themselves on these more lateral tracks yet still drive forward like a breathing mass of power on tracks like Arkangel and Raw. The latter a sleazy groove of riffs and attitude that teases the point before disappearing leaving you gasping for more.
The band continue to push their own boundaries with tracks like Valentine – which has a 30’s prohibition vocal style over a smooth dance beat – and Casanova that transports you to the late 90’s when metal and dance music first mixed, meshing contrasting sounds all grappling for sonic space yet working in tandem.
As the album heads for the home stretch the inhale/exhale track listing becomes shortened shallow breathing as ‘Varsity Blues’ and the title track Heroine flip within songs from a casual laidback story of desire before switching to rage and sadness.
Thornhill have taken quite a leap from their previous works. They have looked at their palette and painted colours as vivid blue as the morning sky and as dark grey as an oncoming thunderstorm. It’s as deep as the ocean and displays the power force that the tide below brings. It’s an album to close your eyes and let Thornhill take over your imagination.
Album Review By Iain McCallum