Hellmouth - Oblivion (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick


Oblivion (2017)

Fast Break Records

I’ve been bullish on Jay Navarro’s post-Suicide Machines projects. (So much so that I should probably revisit the first couple of SM albums. I was not a big ska fan back in those days.) In my humble opinion, Break Anchor is one of the best pop-punk bands playing today. Likewise, Hellmouth is one of the best modern bands when it comes to combining the most intense parts of punk and metal. Oblivion is the third album of a trilogy, and Hellmouth continues in the brutal style they started with Destroy Everything, Worship Nothing (2009) and Gravestone Skylines (2010). If you’re not familiar with this band, you might have a hard time believing that this is the same guy who sang on The Suicide Machines (2000) and Steal This Record (2001).

Hellmouth has always felt very reactionary. They were a platform for Navarro to spew the bile that had built up after years of going through the music industry ringer. They are still pure, undiluted rage in a musical form. It’s challenging music for sure. The songs don't use the repetitive verse/chorus/verse formula that hits are made of. The tracks build, swell, twist and turn until they finally explode. There are elements of black metal, death metal, thrash and doom, all run through a hardcore punk filter. The tempos are generally fast, but the drums vary from plodding to blast beats. With only a single guitar (a rarity in modern heavy music), the bass gets plenty of room to pummel our senses. The guitar cuts like a razor and helps paint the harsh landscape.

The angry, caustic lyrics are delivered in at least a hostile shout, and sometimes in a blood curdling scream. Hellmouth takes aim at all the normal targets. Pretty much every American institution is under attack. Corrupt governments that ignore its most vulnerable citizens. Evil governments that bomb foreign children. Corrupt religions that exploit people for profit. Evil religions that poison our very souls. Corrupt and evil corporations and men that would see us all dead for their purposes. This is not posi-punk that offers some generic solution through unity. This is bleak and nihilistic, and ultimately doesn’t offer up much hope for mankind. It’s Detroit as described with guitar, bass and drums. It’s ugly, unpleasant music for ugly, unpleasant times.

Oblivion has been in the can for awhile now, and I’m glad it’s finally seeing the light of day. It’s got awesome cover art (Don’t skimp on the art kids!) and sixteen songs in a little over a half hour. Only album closer “”Pathetic Bulshit” nears the three minute mark. “Fighting Off the Wolves” comes in under 30 seconds. My personal favorites include “Welcome to the Undertow”, “Blood Fire”, “Dead in the Dirt”, “Snakes of Change” and “Fuck Your Gods”. “Fecal Parasite” is a tale of personal betrayal and is another highlight. These are not exactly sing along songs, and the record is best when taken as a whole. You should probably just carve two hours out of your life to listen all three back to back. I plan to. Oblivion is a satisfying conclusion to Hellmouth’s epic trilogy.