REVIEW: The Butterfly Effect – IV

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One of Australia’s best-kept secrets, Brisbane-based THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT, started teasing their longtime fans with the new single, “Unbroken,” in 2019, after a 13-year hiatus. What was remarkably splendid about the affair was that it also marked the reformation of their original lineup, with Clint Boge as the lead singer. Then, the band disappeared from my radar again, what with all the pandemic rumblings in the Shire. On a peculiar side note, I did manage to locate their magnificent 2008 studio album, “Final Conversation of Kings,” in CD format at some obscure Australian online second-hand store in the early months of the pandemic but, due to all those lockdown measures, ordering anything from Down Under was totally out of the question at the time; having their sophomore 2006 outing “Imago” in my CD rack suddenly began to feel all the more special, almost as though possessing something of the “my precious” variety. So, quite understandably, I was pretty stoked when, at long last and after a few more spectacular singles, the band announced in summer 2022 that their fourth studio album, bearing the all-encompassing title, “IV,” would be independently released on September 2nd. Hopefully, with the pandemic all over and done with, I should be able to treat myself to a double treat and place an online order of both of their last two albums – and why not throw in their 2003 debut “Begins Here” as well! The thing is: while their new album ventures a step further from their proggy roots, here and there, it soon harks back to their old, signature sound that is somewhat reminiscent of their fellow countrymen such as KARNIVOOL, DEAD LETTER CIRCUS, CHAOS DIVINE, or even CALIGULA’S HORSE, on occasion. If this doesn’t sound like a real bargain, I don’t know what will.

The quasi-instrumental title track does the honors of opening the album by setting a darkly cinematic mood. The song does not feature vocals exactly, but there are some whistled parts – and I can’t help but think of young Clint Eastwood slinging a six-shooter against the sonic backdrop of Ennio Morricone. The guitar parts, however, hark back more toward the sound of “Imago” than True Grit. To say they had me at this point would be a grievous understatement. The band’s back catalog is simply immaculate and their long-awaited comeback endeavor sets out on rather good footing straight from the get-go.

Further down the line, the band dabbles in new sounds, especially when it comes to the somewhat grittier and punchier guitar textures. The one song that resonates the hardest with the familiar, somewhat atmospheric, and progressive air of their old albums is “Visiting Hours.” Albeit being the most ballad-esque cut on the selection, it serves as the album’s closer and, rather befittingly, brings things to a close on a high note by rolling out the band’s strongest virtues of the past with a straightforward punch in the face; the song’s spectral guitar melodies, in tandem with Boge‘s haunting vocals, grab you instantly like the facehugger from Ridley Scott’s Alien.

These Aussie rockers have a knack for writing melodies that get under your skin, sometimes immediately, sometimes biding their time. In this respect, the seventh track, “Unbroken,” is perhaps the song that stands out the most. Then again, “Wave of Tides” comes pretty close too, while introducing a tad more metallic edge to the band’s songcraft. I’m kidding, of course: there are no tracks to skip on this offering – they all introduce some subtle new facet of the band’s idiosyncratic sound, ranging from the almost nu-metal-like aura of “The Other Side” to the tribal rhythms of “Start Again.” Of course, once through the album, I wasn’t yet sure whether I liked all these new nuances that much but, after a few spins, they started to sound like the most natural thing in the world. It sure helps that the fundamentals in the band’s songcraft have remained intact and sublime; the melodies are strong as ever and Boge sounds like his usual haunting self, whether he is belting out with his impressive hard-rock rasp or delivering those cherubic falsettos! I was obviously expecting sequels to songs such as “In A Memory” and “World’s On Fire” – and, yes, I got what I bargained for and more. “IV” is nothing short of a fair dinkum knockout of an album and a triumphant comeback by one of the most underrated Australian outfits perhaps ever. Spread the gospel: these Aussies kick some serious ass!

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. IV
  2. Dark Light
  3. Wave of Tides
  4. Nil By Mouth
  5. The Other Side
  6. So Tired
  7. Unbroken
  8. Great Heights
  9. Start Again
  10. Visiting Hours

Lineup

Clint Boge – vocals

Kurt Goedhart – guitars

Glenn Esmond – bass

Ben Hall – drums

Label

Independent

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