When I heard my first Hellmouth record—which I’ve since learned was their second release (Gravestone Skylines, 2010)—it was more of a curiosity than something that really grabbed me. Here was Jay Navarro of Suicide Machines in a metal band. His voice definitely fits the style, but the riff-dominant vitriol was such a transition that it threw me off. I enjoyed the concise songs -– my number one gripe about most of the metal genre is that songs are too long –- but it wasn’t quite there. The band is a hardcore/thrash hybrid that uses a hardcore structure with some serious riffage and booming rage straight from the thrash world.
Today we taste Oblivion, now the band’s third effort and it’s both a rager but also a well-thought out cumulative taste of anger, hatred, and pure agony put to music. There’s an underlying hardcore influence but, on paper, this is a metal record that rages 16 songs in just 32 minutes. It’s part of a trilogy about, for lack of better terminology, human corruption and the earth’s imminent demise. It takes the gloom and doom of their now almost 7 years-old predecessor and adds to the hopeless desperation.
Many records that go over 15 songs feel scattershot, but the tone is as concise as the songwriting with smooth transitions between songs and a clear connective tissue from one to the next.
While the record is rife with shouting and big riffs, it’s strength is combining that turn-it-up-to-11-ness and f-bombs with big rhythmic hooks (“Gray Turns Black”), plus the melodic chops that sometimes surface within (“Coliseum Oblivio”). It’s a record about the end of days: wallowing in misery and wasted energy that yearns to be spent on something productive, finding charm and, dare I say, connection amid the fury.
That general tone is what draws me to most of the hardcore I listen to and, in Oblivion it’s fits the bill. It’s hardcore at heart but thrash on the surface, contained but on the verge of bursting into chaos at any moment. Hellmouth probably won’t wow the devout tech metal aficionado, but for the crossover crowd this delivers some serious catharsis.
The band also features Alex Awn (Coalition, Varsity), Jeff Uberti (Left In Ruin, World of Hurt), and Justin Malek (ex-Fordirelifesake).
Posted Aug. 1, 2017, 1:57 p.m.
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