Review: Thom Pankhurst – Lighthouse

Thom Pankhurst

Over the last few years, instrumental releases within the progressive rock/metal genre have been on the rise, and like with everything else, the quality of the releases vary from hit-and-miss to some absolutely amazing gems. Lighthouse is an EP debut by London-based guitarist and composer Thom Pankhurst released in August this year.

Well composed, arranged and wonderfully performed, Lighthouse is an ambitious, albeit short, piece of instrumental prog fusion, with more than enough epic ideas to keep a listener engaged and attentive. Suffice to say, there is more than enough of a variety to keep the music from sounding stale or rehashed. Although Thom’s true calling lies in melody-driven progressive metal guitar, the stylistic curveballs here are fully-realized and sound great. The EP opens with the title track, which is an excellent example of Pankhurst’s skill as a multi-faceted composer. And this skill just keeps on improving throughout the remaining two tunes. Song structures seem arranged to cater to a string of individually satisfying moments, as opposed to the ideas all contributing to the overall whole of a composition. Even in the most ambitious progressive rock/metal moments, I tend to look for some of the same qualities found in conventionally good songwriting.

Thom Pankhurst - Lighthouse

Obviously, much of the spotlight here is placed on Thom’s prodigious grasp of the electric guitar. He makes himself out to be an absolutely brilliant fusion guitarist, possibly one of the most talented I’ve heard in recent years. “Lunar Waves” might be my favourite track on the EP for this very reason; Thom’s marriage of keen instrumental wandering and tight melodic passages is gorgeous. It’s worth mentioning that “Traveller” and “Lunar Waves” feature guest guitar solos by Dan Thornton and Sam Bell respectively, who make a mighty fine addition to the overall soundscape.

Lighthouse is a record packed with instrumental inventiveness and technical proficiency. Pankhurst excels here both as a composer and musician. The only downside — the release is way too short.

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