Generally, “happy” isn’t exactly a term associated with the melodic hardcore genre. For young Australian band Hellions, perhaps that is the simple yet most accurate way to describe their new LP, Opera Oblivia. The third album from the quintet is represents an evolution in sound, not only for them, but potentially for the genre as a whole. And while uplifting lyricism is certainly not a new feature of hardcore music, Opera Oblivia is unquestionably an album forged by “thinking outside of the box.” Here, Hellions provide a shot in the arm to a field seemingly devoid of much creativity these days. The music found within 10-track effort that is Opera Oblivia is every bit as catchy and colorful as the album art, indicating that theses Australians are perhaps the future of their genre.
Opera Oblivia is purposely structured as if the listener were taking in an opera or stage performance. This concept alone creates a unique angle for experiencing the music, in addition to the interesting melting pot of influences that arise throughout the record. In some cases, this can be detrimental, but Hellions execute it impressively well: nu-metal vocals (which are, admittedly, at times a bit grating) meet punk guitar riffs and pop-punk vibes all while maintaining their melodic hardcore foundation. “24” introduces the album and its themes and influences quite well, featuring bouncy guitar riffs and a gang-vocal chorus that is more reminiscent of a grand, on-stage production rather than a punk rock album opener. This is exactly the effect Hellions had in mind in choosing “24” as the introductory track.
“Act 1” continues with what is certainly a contender for song of the year (in any genre); “Quality of Life” features a stadium-ready hook, head-bobbing grooves, and thought provoking lyricism. It is followed by “Thresher,” a track featuring yet another massive chorus and unquestionably is to become a live set staple. The punk-driven catchiness and infectious energy continue up until the “intermission,” of sorts, “He Without Sin II: Heels of the Hands.” “Bad Way” introduces “Act 2” with colorful guitar leads and is followed by yet another album highlight in “Nightline Rhapsody,” an anthemic pop-punk burst prior to the chilling slow-burner that is “Nuestra Culpa.” Complimented by string arrangements and led by piano, “Nuestra Culpa” serves as the calm bridge to the finale that is “25,” which completes Opera Oblivia similarly to how it opened.
From the enchanting opening “24,” to the climactic close in “25,” Opera Oblivia is brimming with enticing melody, colorful enthusiasm, and vibrant instrumentation, altogether oozing happiness. After an impressive half-hour run time, all that’s left to be desired is more. But Hellions stuck to their theatric and thematic vision, and Opera Oblivia is an example of an artist honing and executing a uniquely ambitious product. Hellions has delivered a progression in sound that will not be rejected by older fans, and serves as an excellent point for which new fans can climb onto the bandwagon. With Opera Oblivia, Hellions have created one of the most interesting and fun listens of the year, an album that will have the audience patiently awaiting a sequel.