Australian alt-hardcore outfit Hellions can’t sit still. Having released debut album Die Young in 2013, the Dre Faivre-fronted group have since released last year’s Indian Summer and are currently gearing up to release their third record: the theatrical Opera Oblivia. The album touches upon all the hallmarks of Hellions’ infectious hardcore-infused rock, paired with operatic sensibilities and melodic flourishes. They’ve gone to lengths which other bands in the same genre don’t dare approach, whilst still staying true to their roots. Just like American counterparts Capsize (who we discussed last week), you could suggest that Hellions are also opening the door for a brand new world of metal. Not necessarily a dark and twisted one (like the one Capsize are unveiling); rather, a vibrant and colourful one which has injected a new sense of positivity into a genre which was very much becoming stale.
Speaking of the record, guitarist Matt Gravolin said the following: “We would love for Opera Oblivia to be an escape for its listeners. We want it to commiserate with people through our common unpleasantries and overwhelming hardships, and also celebrate alongside our inevitable victory. We want people to allow it to befriend them and remain with them long after its sounds fade out”. Album opener 24 certainly reflects this mindset, with frontman Faivre touching upon auto-biographical lyrical topics as choir-esque vocals join him in delivering a monolithic missive. “We are not the same, we have to change” sing the band during the track, one which segues straight into lead single Quality of Life by way of a motivational rally cry from Faivre. On the surface, the track is a brutal metalcore powerhouse, with its pummelling intro hitting with full force from close by. The chorus sends everything into a different direction, though, with one uplifting line standing out in particular: “you can be happy if you want to be”. It’s a far cry from the lovelorn loss which most metalcore frontmen mourn, yet Faivre isn’t your normal frontman. He’s a total different breed of frontman: an orchestrator, an entertainer, a party starter. Pop-punk tinged new single Thresher widens Hellions’ palette once more, bordering on clean vocals as opposed to Faivre’s usual half-spoken, half-shouted declaration.
The record is structured like a theatrical presentation, featuring different segments and parts which interflow with one another whilst still standing out as separate, loose-hanging songs with their own points to prove. i) Halaton and ii) Heels of the Hands are two such opera-tinged pieces, separating the record’s first half from its end. This separation only becomes clear once you listen very closely, because on the surface Opera Oblivia’s tone doesn’t seem to change an awful lot throughout. The first post-middle track is Bad Way, a sharp cut which touches upon elements of danceable Mexican music and lilting indie rock. The track is by far Opera Oblivia’s highlight, utilizing elements which hark back to Hellions’ roots just as much as they look into the future of a band with so much potential. Penultimate track Nuestra Culpa is centred on a darker piano line and grim undertones, both of which (paired with pounding percussion courtesy of Anthony Caruso) enable the record to come to an unnervingly hopeful ending alongside Faivre’s delicate and frail rally cries. Following a lengthy speech, the frontman declares, “I think we’re better than this” as a swooshing operatic segment enters the frame. It may not be the final track, but it’s definitely a strong note to end on and prove a point with. Proper album closer 25 picks up where 24 left off, sending Hellions off into the sunset on a positive note as the Faivre proclaims, “I am infinite, I will remain” in the most uplifting of vocal tones. On paper, Hellions may not seem like a band who are ready change the musical soundscape; on record, though, they come closer than anyone else in changing the way heavy music is perceived by the fan as well as the outsider.
Opera Oblivia comes out on Friday (29 July) via UNFD.