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Butterfly - Doorways of Time Award winner

Doorways of Time
by Kira Schlechter at 21 September 2020, 10:52 PM

Melbourne’s BUTTERFLY may have gotten together in 2017, but their minds are set firmly in like 1977, as they dish out hard rock with stoner/doom elements and touches of ‘60s in the vocal harmonies on their excellent debut, “Doorways Of Time.” That blend is done without sounding contrived or trying to be trendy; they maintain a certain millennial irony even though they take the music absolutely seriously. Not as slavish period devotees as fellow Aussies WOLFMOTHER, they have plenty of metal in their soul too. And unlike in the ‘70s where singers reigned supreme, BUTTERFLY’s vocals – and the singers themselves – are almost interchangeable and part of the overall sound. It’s the actual music that matters most.

The beginning riff of “Desert Chase” just barges into your brain cells and takes up residence with major groove and attitude, after a kickoff of low-end bass and drums and snarling, lazy guitar with lots of fuzz. The vocal is dreamy, as high as the music is low, the chorus done almost in a falsetto. It’s an interesting contrast, although you could argue that it should be louder, because the crushing low end drowns out the high frequency a little. But it does segue right into the guitar solo, which gives it an otherworldly sound. When the ending guitar takes on the melody of the verse, it almost becomes a verse in itself. It’s an acid trip kind of song about being in the desert searching for something, enlightenment (“Roused from my sleep/Visions in stars/The answers I seek/Remain lost to me”), or for someone (“I will not rest til I find him/I will not sleep til I know”) – it’s coolly ambiguous.

“Climbing A Mountain” has an opening that sounds a lot like THE CULT’S “Love Removal Machine” – similar drum part, similar riff – it’s not identical, but boy, it’s reminiscent. It’s not a bad thing though and thankfully it doesn’t last long. Their lengthy instrumental intros really serve to establish a mood. There’s a different singer here with a grittier style, then the higher singer delivers the quick little chorus – it’s weird, but it works, although at times he strains a bit. Lots of dastardly changes in rhythm and groove keep you on your toes throughout. This is a psychedelic little love song, like finding salvation in love, but it’s incomplete (“‘Cause I really love you baby/But that’s not enough”). The “climbing a mountain” idea is just that daily struggle, trying to silence the doubters (“‘Cause in the eyes of the world/We’re just fools”).

The title track starts with a righteous groove, with plenty of Phil’s outstanding bass work and beefy, wah-laden guitars. It’s absolutely an acid trip, or a trip into temptation. The second verse talks about “orchids of Eden’s garden chimes” and a mysterious “man standing with a cup of wine,” a “man in disguise” with “demon eyes.” The narrator drinks of the demon’s wine and the trip begins. The chanted group vocal part is eerie and totally changes the mood to follow the action, then the liquidy, bubbling guitar backed by shimmering, buzzy chords builds and builds until the narrator shakes himself out of it with an almost spoken line, “Stop, demon I’m your friend.”

The tracks midway are especially intriguing. “The Night Is On Its Way” is a bit like “House of the Rising Sun” in sonic spirit, with that creepy guitar. The ensuing drum line has an echoing mix where you can hear the actual drumheads ringing, then the bass steps smartly in, accompanied by that same ominous guitar. A hauntingly brief tale of a suicide, the verse is delivered by one singer (“I went down to the river/When I heard her haunting call/She was gone, gone, gone” and “I went down to the water/To see what she had done/She was gone, gone, gone”) and all the singers on each of the last lines. It’s a dirge that makes your hackles rise. The final line, “The night is on its way/A thousand hearts broken today” is just tragic.

“Nobody” has a similar vibe to “Night,” dark but a bit more uptempo and musically hinting at the DOORS. The deadpan, nearly monotone delivery of the vocal, with the higher-voiced singer drifting ethereally above, suits the trippy nature of the subject matter. They play with the title in the lyrics to be “no body,” and it reads very much like an out-of-body experience, delivered in just that way, kind of disjointed and disconnected (“Floating through the air up from the ground/There’s no skin or bone to hold me now/All of that believing left behind/There’s no body to hold me,” like to keep me on this earth”). It ends without resolution on that “no body” line, hinting at perhaps the journey is now complete.

“Sin,” with its wicked, thumping groove, almost sounds like early ZZ TOP or something, and that groove and lead guitar riff mimic the title perfectly. That chanted multiple vocal is excellent, passing sharp judgment (“there’s too many people living in the sin”), and that repeated “whatcha doin’?” is really effective. There’s only a few lines here, but they likely refer to environmental destruction (“Care for the mother/Or won't be long before it’s gone” and “Care for the father/Smoke is rising in the sky”).

“Heavy Metal Highway,” slow and funky with a persistent guitar buzz, is likely more like the STEPPENWOLF reference to “heavy metal” with lashings of JUDAS PRIEST, especially in the irreverent, scatalogical lines after the chorus (“I'm a roller, a high speed controller/I got a heavy plan”), which are a hoot, delivered in that droll, matter-of-factly naughty way. It’s kind of ironic since this isn’t really metal per se, again it’s that ‘70s definition, and they have that sound down pat in every aspect, from the guitar tone to the prominence of the bass.

The band’s neat hand with a money riff is apparent in “Crawling.” Ultra heavy and grinding, it certainly does crawl and ooze and slither and burrow itself into your bones. This too has another long intro but it’s so enjoyable, then it slows to a tremulous halt before a doomy, stoner take on that same riff starts anew. The chorus lightens into a rather BEATLES-esque vibe. Again, the vocals are so interesting in that they are nearly nondescript in some ways; they’re definitely not the focus. And the lyrics are intentionally vague – there’s no real theme here except perhaps being in a bad place (whatever that is, with drugs or depression) and trying to get out.

“The Scorpion,” a brief, cinematic acoustic, is just an idea and not really a complete track. It’s a dark, dimensional closer for sure, and it would be cool to see them pick up on that idea at some point down the line and flesh it out. Album two, maybe? This is a damn fine start.

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 9

4 Star Rating

1 Desert Chase
2. Climbing A Mountain
3. Doorways Of Time
4. The Night Is On Its Way
5. Nobody
6. Sin
7. Heavy Metal Highway
8. Crawling
9. The Scorpion
Phil Gresig - Vocals, Bass
Rob Wog - Vocals, Drums
Luke Robertson - Vocals, Guitars
Philip T. King - Vocals, Guitars
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 08 February 2023

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