Butterfly – Doorways of Time Review

It seems odd reviewing an album I’ve had since last year, but stranger things have happened. For Australian antique-rockers Butterfly, what appears to have taken place is that they have been picked up by Petrichor, a new label also responsible for releasing last year’s superb Empress album. I mean, Doorways of Time was available last summer, and some of the folks I like to hang out with were raving about it, so it’s been on rotation at Chez Huck for a number of months now. I can’t track down any press releases, and Petrichor doesn’t even list Butterfly as part of their roster, but what the hell, let’s review it anyhow. I mean, look at that gorgeous cover art! How can we not review this? How can it not be great

“Climbing a Mountain” is totally Kiss, right down to the Love Gun-inspired “I really love ya, baby!” It’s granddad level cool, but also features some pretty bad backing vocals. The whole band sings, and that’s not a good thing. While it gives the album a down-home and earthy feeling, it can be a bit awkward. Meaning when the backing vocals kicked in here Mrs. Roll offhandedly remarked, “Oh, that one can’t sing.” Wishbone Ash and Thin Lizzy might be the most obvious influences, with plenty of guitar harmonies littered throughout the album, but all the big bands of the 70s hold court here. “The Sin” could be a hard-rocking version of an Eagles song, with its southern rock groove and simple yet effective bass line. “Heavy Metal Highway” recalls Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold,” and the 35 seconds of left-channel feedback that opens the song is perfect. It’s the ballsiest song on the album, complete with the F-word being strewn in, if you can believe that.

“Crawling” is the longest song, and not one that gets a lot of replay. Butterfly’s music is much more impactful in succinct doses. “Crawling” most certainly harkens back to the drawn-out jams of the 70s, but its seven minute runtime has to be considered a misstep, as does the short instrumental outro “The Scorpion,” which would be more effective in the middle of side 2 of a vinyl copy. These two songs send Doorways of Time out on a somber note that contradicts the fun of the first seven songs. Still, there’s something alluring about these songs that makes me play them again when I don’t have to, a quirky charm that, despite the shortcomings close listening brings, keeps me going along with the music when I don’t have my critic’s hat on.

Stripped down is the first thing that comes to mind when playing Doorways of Time. Reverb? Delay? Chorus? Effects of any kind? Shut the front door! This foursome almost completely eschews any and all sonically-enhancing thingickies, instead opting for clean and pure tone from all instruments and vocals. It gives the album a strangely dry, sterile aesthetic that is both magnetic and off-putting. The production is almost perfect for what Butterfly are aiming for here. A lighter touch on the mastering knob to allow the snare drum to really flick you in the forehead like old Fleetwood Mac albums1 would have been a boon.

This just might be the hardest time I’ve ever had assigning a grade, and is a great example of why sometimes ratings don’t really work. The music and singing on Doorways of Time ranges from stellar to groovy, to catchy as hell and warm and comfy, to cheesy and amateurish. And that’s all in a three-minute song. Butterfly have released an album that is equal parts amazing and moribund, and while it confuses me I somehow keep playing it. I can’t explain.2 This is one of those albums that, if you’re a fan of classic hard rock, you’ll have to experience on your own and judge for yourself. Anyhow, it falls somewhere between a 1 and a 5.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320kbps mp3
Label: Petrichor
Websites: butterflypetrichor.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/butterflybandaustralia
Release Worldwide: March 5th, 2021

Show 2 footnotes

  1. DR14 back in those days, if you must know.
  2. Well I suppose I just tried to for 600 words but you know…
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