There’s nothing I like more than some hardcore punk. I tend to think, why would I listen to music if I could make my ears bleed? Why sing if you can scream? Hey, I listened to my share of Rage Against The Machine in my angsty teen years. I dated a skater. I even broke my rib in the RaTM mosh pit at Big Day Out. These days though, I am definitely my father’s daughter when it comes to this genre and there is almost nothing else I wouldn’t rather listen to. I mean, my favourite song right now features a porn star – sorry – reality star’s husband, a pop sensation and a Beatle. So to say I was concerned when the new Hellions record, Indian Summer landed on my desk is somewhat of an understatement. I’m happy to say though… I didn’t hate it.
Hellions are making serious moves in the Australian hardcore punk scene with their unique and clever vocal delivery, all out guitar assaults and frantic, exceptional drumming combining to deliver a sound that is definitely becoming their own, but also naturally draws comparisons with some of the heavy weights. Indian Summer gives us three types of Hellions song. The first, the aforementioned RaTM-type, in your face, fuck everything thrash, best found in self titled opening track Hellions, Creasy and Ghoul. The second brings something a little more subtle, if there is such a thing here, with singles like Nottingham and Polyphastic Sleep that are almost too melodic and even pretty in instrumentation and structure to carry the heavy vocal. Not to say it doesn’t work, I quite like when frontman Dre gives us a little light and shade, the sound slightly My Chemical Romance in style. It’s something I think the band could explore in more depth – an idea that might not be overly popular with hardcore fans, but Hellions have got the chops and there is something there that’s worth another look. On Nottingham for example, the delivery of the lyrics If you love me so then let me go / If you love me so then let me go plays with this just a little. The contrast would only serve to make the emotional execution of the harsher vocal more impacting.
The third and most surprising track type on the record is that of instrumentals Technicolour Yawn and title track Indian Summer, the latter in particular providing a musical reprieve, but both quite gorgeous. There is more here than just a thrash metal band, and that’s the stuff I want to see. This is a young band that is comfortable with their sound and is only going to get better. These boys could truly be a bridge between their influencing genres and a more accessible sound, not commercial but something entirely new, and that is what grabbed my attention. The album’s strength lies in that it’s never obvious or predictable, Mea Culpa being a great example. Hellions are demonstrating a musicality broader than I could have expected or given them credit for, and it’s kind of giving me a dull ache where that broken rib sat all those years ago.