REVIEW: THORNHILL - THE DARK POOL
Melbourne based Thornhill have become fast rising stars in Australia’s metal scene. Touting a self-described ‘alternative metalcore’ sound, their previous EPs have generated them some serious interest not only in their native country but also somewhat overseas. The Dark Pool is their much anticipated debut album and, judging from the singles alone, looked like it was going to be a hell of a record. I put the album on and decided to find out for myself whether Thornhill have lived up to the hype.
Right from the off it’s very clear what kind of musical world this band takes its influence from. Opening track “Views From The Sun” strides along in an Architects meets Northlane meets Deftones vibe with sprawling riffs, atmospheric electronics and some fantastic vocals that switch between meandering melodies reminiscent of Chino Moreno to mid range metalcore style screams. “Nurture” similarly follows up - it’s a song that’s very reminiscent of something Northlane would have put on their Mesmer album and that’s no bad thing at all! The huge scratchy breakdown in “Nurture” easily has to be one of the album’s best moments too.
“The Haze” is a much more progressive leaning song, with more angular Deftones-y riffs giving way to layer upon layer of reverberating clean guitars and beautifully sung vocals. “In My Skin” has a similar feel to it too, with the addition of some almost neoclassical melodies in the vocals that remind me of bands like Chiodos before dropping down into some seriously filthy riffs in the chorus and breakdown.
“Lily And The Moon” might be the absolute standout of this album. Following on from the short and gentle interlude “All The Light We Don’t See”, it’s a huge progressive metal styled track that draws heavily on those influences from Deftones, Northlane and Karnivool. Full of beautifully song vocals and an incredible chorus that hits harder than anything else on The Dark Pool, it’s one that will definitely go down very well live and will be remembered as a classic of the band’s discography for years to come. “Coven” contrasts massively to this with its huge, slithering later-era Architects style riffs.
Another interlude (“Netherplace”) leads into the album’s massive closer “Where We Go When We Die”. Full of the huge low tuned riffs, beautiful ambient passages and wailing, Deftones-esque vocals that are a big trademark of this album, it brings everything full circle brilliantly and leaves me eagerly waiting for what they might try to pull off on their next album.
The Dark Pool is a fantastic album, there’s no doubt about it. However, on multiple listens, it does seem somewhat derivative. The influences from other Australian progressive metal and metalcore bands are very much on show and whilst that isn’t necessarily a bad thing at all, it can leave them sounding a bit too much like bands like Northlane or In Hearts Wake. Indeed, if you were to change the vocals to something that was more screamy than what we get on The Dark Pool, you might be forgiven for thinking that some tracks were offshoots from Northlane’s Node or Mesmer albums!
Honestly, this is only a minor dent on an otherwise great and solid album. When it comes down to the reality of the situation, most listeners won’t really care that much that Thornhill are building on top of foundations that have already been there for a while. The main thing is that The Dark Pool is an absolutely fantastic debut album - indeed, it could honestly be one of the best debut albums from any band in a good while.
ROCKODILE RATING: 8/10
Words by Robert Percy