I’m a firm believer in the revival of dead genres. The formula for doing so is as simple as it is elusive; there are basically two paths for those looking to make music in styles that seem passed their time. They can either try and innovate the genre completely or go back to basics, making what everyone escapes to hear from the genre but well executed, earnest and self-aware. The former is tempting but is very, very hard to achieve and most bands which attempt fly too close to the sun and end up a bloated mess. The latter, however, can often succeed and offer fans of the “deceased” genre a great kick of fresh enjoyment. With one specific recently defunct genre, djent, this is of utmost importance; the once fast moving scene has since stagnated, producing work that’s either too obsessed with reinventing the wheel and ends up feeling empty or too same-y to really grab our attention.
Thornhill are a young band aiming, and succeeding, in striking that precarious balance between throwback and their own unique sound, producing an enjoyable EP titled Butterfly. This is basically djent a la Northlane, early Karnivool or TesseracT, by which we mean progressive metal with emphasis on melody, soaring mostly-clean vocals and the thick, and the metallic tone on the guitars which gave the genre its name. You’ll find nothing that will shock you on this album but it’s really well made, from production to songwriting to execution, tapping into the stores of thrilling groove that, at the end of the day, created one of the most popular modern metal genres.
The second track, “Parasite”, is probably the best example for why this all works. The track structure is pretty straight forward, relying on a familiar djent riff backed by a decent groove section. The vocals, whether high-pitched and ethereal or screamed, are clearly the focus of the track and present us with the most hooks and interesting moments. However, enough of the track is broken up by moments of transition and bridges that do much to end freshness to the track’s progression and eventual terminus. This ending point works well with the following track’s opening, a heavier and heftier passage and from there, the album keeps going until its resolution.
So, bottom line, Butterfly is a jaunt through fields which we once walked in daily, harking back to what originally made djent an enjoyable and popular genre. It’s very aware of the formulas it’s invoking and invokes them without fear; instead, the band focus on making everything work as well as it can, garnering for themselves a very sleek and fresh feel. If you’re hankering for that kind of djent riff and a great vocal delivery, you can do way worse than spinning Butterfly.