Thornhill – Heroine
Released: June 3, 2022
Jacob Charlton // Vocals
Ethan McCann // Guitar
Matt Van Duppen // Guitar
Nick Sjogren // Bass
Ben Maida // Drums
Confession time: I was a bit intimidated reviewing this album because I feel like Thornhill is such a loved band with protective fans, and I was worried people would come for me if I said the wrong thing. The second part of my confession is that while I’ve always appreciated how incredible Thornhill is and I’ve even enjoyed them live – for some reason, they were just never a band that stuck with me. I never really think to put their debut album The Dark Pool on, which I know is CRAZY – that album is GOOOOOD. So when I took on this review, I worried I wasn’t a big enough fan, that my not clicking with them would make it too hard. But I realised that Thornhill is on a huge journey with this new album – one that I could easily come on. This album is fairly different in sound and concept from their previous work, which made it easier for me to get on board and enjoy the album for what it was and not have my expectations of the band and their sound hinder my thoughts… Anyway, this has been an unnecessarily long intro; let’s look at the album.
The first song, ‘The Hellfire Club’ (any Stranger Things fans?), brings the fuzzy, warm, cinematic vibes straight away. The band has explained that they imagined writing a film score during the writing process and found inspiration in the scenes of classic Hollywood. That inspiration is apparent straight away. ‘Leather Wings’ gives us the same feel but with a bit more of the standard metalcore elements in it, and then we get to the soaring ‘Blue Velvet’, which is moody and melodic and gives us the classic Jacob Charlton insane vocals.
The incredibly sexy, nineties-vibed ‘Arkangel’ comes next, a song I’ve liked since it first came out. Guitarist Ethan McCann also worked on the album’s production and co-wrote it, explaining that this song was inspired by the opening credits to Buffy The Vampire Slayer (man, I LOVED that show!). The slinky and grungy (but also slightly cheesy) feel translates well. The outro of this song is so good too – Ben Maida’s drums are such a sexy time.
I will use the word sexy way too many times in this review, but I don’t know what to tell you- this album is sexy- Sorry! And if you’ve seen the band’s film clips and styling, you would know that’s absolutely what they are going for. ‘Valentine’ slows down, and Nick Sjogren seduces the listener with super low, slow bass while Jacob sings incredible falsetto. This song is almost all high vocals, low distorted bass and simple but effective drums. ‘Casanova’ is up next, and this song is probably one of the more recognisable metalcore songs on the album and another track I’ve liked since I first heard it. It’s upbeat and will have crowds dancing the entire time. The way it builds up to the first chorus, which kicks in with an “urggh” from Jacob, is incredible. There’s also a fantastic guitar solo and djenty bass throughout.
Next up, we get a gorgeous two and a half minute instrumental with ‘Something Terrible Came with the Rain’. This song builds and swells and has that perfect movie soundtrack feel – starting with beautiful guitar, then synths and cinematic string sounds.
‘Hollywood’ takes us back to the grungey, nineties vibes but with orchestral parts built-in. The singles from this album have already drawn numerous Deftones comparisons, and you can see why in songs like this. This one has so much going on – it’s slinky, grungey, has eighties synth elements and that cinematic, orchestral feel. It also brings the Djent and metalcore back in, and we get a rad breakdown and a classic rock guitar sound. How can one song take so many different sounds and put them together so well?
‘Raw’ is the last of the released singles and has jarring synth sounds with dirty, sexy instruments. This song is so fun and would make me want to dirty dance in the moshpit. Ending the album is ‘Varsity Hearts’ and the title track ‘Heroine’. The former is a song that would fit perfectly on the soundtrack to a coming-of-age movie that will become a cult classic. The latter rounds out the album with a cool classic rock feel that builds throughout until it is full and crashing and then gets harmonic and slow to close out— what a way to finish.
Ok, so here it is – this is a bloody good sophomore album by a band who have come into their own. They understand themselves and they know how they want to give their art to the world, which is apparent in everything from the lyrics, the narrative, the stylings of the band, and the way they play and hold themselves in video clips. Yes, it’s a bit of a departure from their previous, much-loved album, but they aren’t just a talented, metalcore band now – they are a band that knows how to compose a body of songs with its own sound. That sound is a bit new, but it doesn’t stray so far from its roots that it is no longer recognisable. It is the same but different and honours their roots and understanding of themselves and what they want from the band.
This album was supposed to invoke feelings of classic Hollywood, and I can 100 percent say it did that for me. I love Los Angeles, but I love it for its grittiness. Heroine makes me see myself sitting in a bar on Sunset or Hollywood Boulevard after too big a night with the sun roasting me, feeling seedy but with the cool LA breeze on my face, thinking – man, I love life for all its ups and downs. I can feel that someone who hates LA would feel that dislike in the moments of sadness and despair on this album – it would give the feeling of coming down when the sunlight exposes the city and all its dirtiness and cracks show, leaving you feeling unclean.
Heroine feels like glamourised drug use. Wow, that was way more poetic than I expected it to be, but that’s just what this record does. It’s inspired, inspiring and the sound of a band not happy to rest on their laurels. I have already seen boring comments from fans who think they want Thronhill‘s sound to stay the same forever, but all I can say is listen to it!
Thornhill – Heroine tracklisting:
1. The Hellfire Club
2. Leather Wings
3. Blue Velvet
7. Something Terrible Came With the Rain
10. Varsity Hearts