'Heroine' - A Misunderstood Masterpiece

'Heroine' - A Misunderstood Masterpiece

Australian alt-metalcore outfit Thornhill have been a hot topic in the modern scene since they released their sophomore EP Butterfly back in 2018, and with 2019’s full-length The Dark Pool being widely regarded as up there with the best in its genre, the now-four-piece had a lot to live up to with their next release. However, with the drama of the COVID pandemic and a shift in the band’s mentality, many avid fans were confused and disappointed when "Casanova" was eventually released at the tail end of 2021. Thornhill released the full LP Heroine in June 2022 with their new sound and artistic approach to a highly mixed reception. Like many others, I adore the album, so let’s delve deeper into what makes Heroine such a misunderstood masterpiece.

With the first single, “Casanova” (released October 2021), Thornhill immediately signaled to listeners that the next release would be different – to many a fan’s surprise, considering the success of The Dark Pool. With sludgy riffs, ‘poppier’ writing, and a general lack of heavy vocals, “Casanova” became a divisive subject within the community, but with the follow-up singles “Arkangel,” Hollywood, and – closer to the LP’s release – “Raw,” the band made it clear that the new sound was here to stay, and I’m glad. This unique sound gave the band so much creative freedom with their writing, both sonically and lyrically. It allowed them to explore new sound spaces and create one of the most innovative, unique, and enticing records I’ve listened to.

From the heavier, guitar-driven bangers like “Casanova,” “Raw,” and “Leather Wings” to softer, emotional ballads like “Varsity Hearts, “The Hellfire Club,” and the title track “Heroine”, Thornhill explores untrodden territory in the genre, using atmosphere and soundscapes compliment the gorgeous writing. Many of the tracks use vocalist Jacob Charlton’s ridiculously stunning falsetto, and – combined with the powerful instrumentals, driven chiefly by Ben Maida on drums – there’s something profoundly alluring about the album. With much of the lyrical material being about love, lust, and conflict, it is unsurprising that the phrase “Horny4Thorny” became such a main-stay for fans.

Without you slowly, I’d become undone
if you left me here” 
– Blue Velvet

Regarding stand-out tracks, “The Hellfire Club” is about as good an opener as you could ask for in an album of this caliber. Right from the angelic, groovy opening riff – crafted in the brilliant mind of guitarist Ethan McCann– you are in the palm of Charlton’s hand and with lyrics like “people stay much longer in my head than in my life, so please don’t go,” prepare to have your heartstrings pulled. Coupled with the beautifully emotive lyricism, each song is also provided with context in physical copies of the album presented in the form of a film script, with “The Hellfire Club”’s entry reading – 


A phone rings in a dimly lit apartment, every sound vibrating the room…
The call rings out as the answering machine begins its playback, echoing through the empty flat.

STATIC. And then a faint, apologetic voice begins to explain…” 

– breathing life into the lyrics by personifying them and placing you in the room. The song ends with a soaring post-chorus where Charlton is set free, and emotions run wild. At the same time, McCann, bassist Nick Sjogrenand Maida play us out with a beautifully dense soundscape, settling down to a final chord that fades into silence. If you haven’t heard this song, do yourself a favor.

Other standouts for me include the interlude "Something Terrible Came with the Rain," going into the single “Hollywood," where the band explores themes of lust and adultery set within a bustling Hollywood Casino:

The girl in white has my heart…

Can you just say, ‘I’m in love with a girl here in Hollywood’?”

The driving riffs and drums going into a sudden silent break in the bridge, followed by a highly emotional section, make this track a highlight for me, and I think the riff has been stuck in my head for over a year now.

The closer and title track, “Heroine,” is another stand-out track, placing you in the world of a high-school prom and experiencing the dramas of love, jealousy, and betrayal. The ending section of the song and album never fails to get me all choked up, with the instrumentals building to a climax and then dropping out altogether, leaving Charlton’s gorgeous vocals, McCann’s subtle guitarwork, and a cacophony of strings and vocal harmonies – a stunning way to end a brilliant album.

Dare me to stop
I know I know
‘To knight with me
Form a sea’” 
– Heroine 

Despite the apparent departure from the proggy, riffy metalcore we all know and love in The Dark PoolThornhill continues to show that they are a band deserving of their level of success, if not more. Heroine is a testament to their artistry, and this newer direction for the Aussy 4-piece is a welcome change from a highly saturated genre. And, with the band’s recent release “Viper Room” being an absolute belter, I’ve never been more excited to see where Thornhill takes us next.