Thornhill – ‘Butterfly’

By Mark Johnson

Coming from the other side of the world and with only a 5 track EP behind them, the name of this Australian quintet will no doubt be greeted by blank looks and shrugs. Their second EP, however, is about to change all of that. Crammed full of instrumental prowess, vocal ingenuity and rich variation, ‘Butterfly’ is of such high quality that you’ll never again be left with the question “who are Thornhill?”

‘Sunflower’ bends the ear immediately with its complex drum pattern and minimalistic guitar overlay before an unexpected vocal harmony leads the track down a Black Peaks-like prog avenue. This blossoms into a djent-style pattern that brings fellow countrymen Northlane to mind, before flowing seamlessly into post-hardcore style pacing and vocal hooks, making it clear from the start that Thornhill refuse to be pigeon holed.

‘Parasite’ punches straight in with a low end riff and its djent like rhythm sets a brilliant tone for a song that grooves from start to finish. Vocalist Jacob Charlton really comes into his own here, showcasing a range of screams and clean vocals before a stunning falsetto chorus comes out of the blue to add yet another surprising element to the band’s sound. Charlton’s irregularly crafted and unexpected melodies are a breath of fresh air in the genre and keep the vocals uniquely interesting throughout the EP.

‘Reptile’ and ‘Plastic’ maintain the focus on infectious rhythms and while it’s common for djent-infused patterns to become repetitive and predictable, something that Northlane have fallen victim to with recent records, Thornhill’s continually evolving, dynamic changes steer them comfortably clear of any such pitfalls.

Like ‘Sunflower’, the band throw everything they’ve got at ‘Lavender’ to produce another spectacular example of their creative song writing, before bringing down the pace to close with ‘Joy’. The reduced tempo allows Charlton to take the spotlight and he does not disappoint, weaving unusual but highly effective verse patterns that eventually blossom into hauntingly melodic and technically superb high-register choruses, bringing a grandiose conclusion to a majestically crafted record.

At this early stage in the band’s career you’d expect Thornhill to produce a chrysalis, but ‘Butterfly’ is a much more appropriate title for an achievement as flawlessly refined, sophisticated and beautiful as this. It may be early days in 2018, but Thornhill have an early reservation on the end of year honours list.

MARK JOHNSON

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