1000 Albums Project

ALBUM 25

The Dark Pool, by Thornhill
Suggested by Dylan Smith

My wife and I occasionally play a fun game. We call it New Releases. One of us pops onto the Internet Movie Database, and brings up a list of links to the week’s newly released films or DVDs. We then read out an intriguing title, and try guess the genre, plot and actors that accompany a film with such a name.

Our guesses are always ludicrous, larger than life. Sometimes they are oddly prescient, but mostly we are so wide off the mark that we can’t help but laugh. And sometimes we come up with amazing movie ideas that far outstrip the actual film that’s on offer.

It pays to be discerning when selecting a title to lampoon. Picking Avengers Assemble, for example, is a dead end. The film will have Avengers: they will Assemble. No, what you’re looking for is something unspecific but evocative, intriguing and vaguely ominous. A title that sounds promising, but you don’t know why.

A title like The Dark Pool, by Thornhill.

I mean, that could literally be anything. It could be a brooding rap album, or a collection of melancholic love songs. It could be grunting thrash metal, or the debut album of a promising boy band that herald from the (probably nonexistant) Thornhill district of LA. It’s a great title, a total enigma. Without prior knowledge, you don’t know what to expect.

What I didn’t expect was one of the freshest metal albums I’ve heard for years.

The first thing of note is the vocals. Like every aspect of this album, the singer is crisp, assured, technically adventurous, and on point. High pitched and pop-perfect one moment, growling with a thunderous thrash menace the next, the range of vocals on offer is almost shocking. Every beat and note is nailed with an almost robot precision, delivered with an uncommon gentle touch that lends to The Dark Pool’s overall feeling of cleanliness and light.

So often the heaviest of metals is so laden with doom that the listener can feel chest pains from the unrelenting pounding solidity of it all. While that is welcome in its place, Thornhill opt for a less oppressive sound. The drum tones are taut, almost poppy, without sacrificing an ounce of technical precision. The guitars are blazing, and the whole thing is underpinned with some marvellous synth use that adds a touch of retro unease, reminding me of the wonderful soundtrack to Stranger Things.

At first listen, my favourite track was Lily & the Moon, but every song offers so much to fans of the genre that it’s hard to single out a superstar. From the soothing poise of Netherplace to the pounding bass drums of Where We Go When We Die, there’s not a bad tune on the album.

The Dead Pool get a strong 8/10 from me. The only thing stopping me giving a 9 was the lack of a genuine barnstorming show-stopper. Bottling such lightning is a lifetime’s achievement, so I’m not worried, especially when the overall quality as is consistent as this.

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