Since the likes of Parkway Drive, Northlane and In Hearts Wake received international acclaim, the Australian metal scene has been dominated by an abundance of heavy-hitting metalcore bands making their mark. But it is Melbourne luminaries Thornhill who truly stand out in the landscape of Australian hardcore and metalcore with their innovative, fresh and unique take on modern metal. Off the back of a recent tour of the US and the release last month of their glamorous sophomore album ‘Heroine’, Thornhill are stars on a meteoric rise.
The five-piece are partway through the ‘Heroine’ tour on home soil, bringing
their US counterparts in Dayseeker and local heavy favourites Gravemind and Banks Arcade along for the ride, and tonight it’s Brisbane’s turn. Selling out The Triffid on a Sunday night is no mean feat, so it’s safe to assume we’re in for a stellar show tonight.
Relatively nu (metal) kids on the block Banks Arcade are first up tonight, and their The Prodigy meets Post Malone meets Bring Me The Horizon fever dream immediately injects ahigh-octane rush of energy throughout the room. All members of the band command attention with their swagger, attitude and confident presence, particularly frontman Joshua O’Donnell who has little trouble hyping up the growing crowd that gathers at the foot of the stage.
The crisp live mix elevates Jason Meadows’ satisfyingly punchy guitar tone to prominence, and by the time we’ve reached the second number System Failed, the first mosh of the night has broken out. Strobe lighting enhances the live effect of the glittering synths and driving riffs. Banks Arcade’s core sound is a melting pot of musical flavours that should clash, but they somehow just work, and they deliver a tight, strong and confident set that culminates in half the crowd throwing down for the final number Smile from their upcoming album. It’s a very polished performance that warms us up nicely for the bands to come.
Deathcore dynamos Gravemind then take the stage, but with the notable absence of drummer Karl Steller. We later learn that the drummer’s flight was cancelled, yet the remaining band members don’t let this take the wind out of their sails, soldiering on with drums on backing tracks and making a valiant effort to maintain their usual levels of live sonic intensity. A dark synth intro builds the tension until the four-piece’s trademark deathcore aggression immerses us, with razor-sharp drums slicing through the air and brutal grooves reminiscent of Thy Art Is Murder crashing in like iron anvils.
This band are as tight and technical as they are brash and ferocious, and before long, the first circle pit of the night hits like a maelstrom of feral energy. Frontman Bailey Schembri apologises for the quality of his vocals that is diminished by illness, but he still manages an impressive range of guttural growls right through to hellish screams. Overall, being a drummer down inevitably means that some intensity is lost in a live setting, but Gravemind still pull together a solid set.
Second-last on the bill we have Los Angeles post-hardcore titans Dayseeker, who immediately captivate the room with their punchy live mix and powerful lead vocals – both clean and harsh – courtesy of the talented Rory Rodriguez. What follows is an impeccably tight, crystal clear and polished performance that takes the audience through the whole gamut of human emotions, with many, many breakdowns to bolster the cathartic quality of Dayseeker’s music. Much of the crowd seems to be megafans already, singing along to several bangers, and the band clearly picks up on this when they ask the production desk to kill the lights so that everyone can whip out the phone torches for ballad Burial Plot.
A huge most breaks out to recent single Neon Grave, where Rodriguez’s soaring cleans are on display, and a particularly touching moment in the set is when Rodriguez opens up about his late father being the inspiration behind his career and the bands upcoming release. Ending with the infectiously catchy Sleeptalk, Dayseeker wrap up a compelling, moving and dynamic set that is rewarded with a raucous crowd response. It’s the four-piece’s first time touring in Australia, but judging by tonight, it certainly won’t be their last.
The lights dim, melodic backing tracks resound and one by one, Thornhill materialise on the stage; you can cut the atmosphere with a knife until the five-piece launches into The Hellfire Club. Hollywood vanity lights line the stage risers and flicker like bullets ricocheting around the room, and we, the humble audience, are caught in the crossfire of the hellfire club. Slick, stylish and theatrical, Thornhill perform with note-perfect, album-quality punch, polish and power, crushing through both old and new repertoire with unabashed dramatic flair.
This flair is brought in no small part by frontman Jacob Charlton, who channels a mixture of Elvis and Freddie Mercury in the way he moves with his mic stand and effortlessly captivates the audience with both velvety cleans and furious harsh vocals. The entire band oozes charisma and star quality, which is fitting given the thematic heart of Heroine – old Hollywood made new after taking a walk on the wild side.
There’s a fantastic ebb and flow in the way Thornhill have structured their set – bangers from The Dark Pool such as Views from the Sun and Where We Go When We Die get a floor-wide mosh going as feral energy ripples through the crowd. This contrasts with the way the music swells in luscious waves during the sensual Blue Velvet, like we’re diving underwater into the depths of introspection. Theatrical elements like Charlton’s use of a retro landline phone as a mic with distortion effects during Valentine enhance the Golden Age experience. Hit singles Arkangel and Casanova send crowd excitement levels skyrocketing, with a huge wall of death opening up during the latter.
The mixture of older, more traditionally metalcore numbers interspersed with the polished alt-metal of Heroinecreates a unique sonic spectrum that is like Northlane at one end, Deftones at the other.
Never once do the band let the intensity drop; they maintain an electrifying atmosphere throughout the entire set, wrapping up with the new album’s appropriately schmaltzy title track. If Thornhill have proven anything tonight, it’s that they are a force of nature, and their live experience will disarm you, enchant you, and completely blow you away.
With thanks to Dallas Does PR