Album Review: Hot Water Music - 'Exister'

5 June 2012 | 2:52 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Back with the old and a little of the new.

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The news of Hot Water Music's reunion was not only a positive for fans, but for punk rock music in general. 'Exister' is the band's eighth studio album in as many years as the group took a break to pursue other musical interests which in some ways have seeped their way into the band's new tunes.

The return from a large hiatus will usually bring interesting results, in this particular case the group sound refreshed and have found a good balance between some new ideas, and the classic punk rock sound they are known for.

It is in the moments where they attempt something a little different however that the record really shines, most notably in Drag My Body a radio friendly rock song driven by a fast paced, groove heavy beat and catchy vocal melodies. Whilst this doesn't sound like the type of thing you would expect from Hot Water Music, the band pull it off extremely well hinting that their time apart has certainly had an effect on the music they create together.

There is still plenty of the HWM of old, especially in the thundering opener Mainline which is driven by front man Chuck Ragan's haggard but powerful voice, which is constantly given strength from Chris Wollard's perfect harmonies. One of the most refreshing elements of the album is the experimentation with various tempos, instead of returning with a blitzing fast paced punk explosion, the band have used some great dynamics by introducing songs like Boy, Your Gonna Hurt Someone into the play list. Whilst the song is by no means slow, the pace takes a little more time than usual to deliver shuddering walls of guitars with the vocals set back in the mix a little, which very cleverly lets the music be the driver.

This brings me to another highlight of the record, the production, handled by Bill Stevenson of the Descendents, who has given the group a very direct, and large, sound, making the songs polished but still in a gritty way. The record closes with a couple of little powerhouse gems The Traps and Paid In Full both of which put the emphasis back onto the rock side of the band as opposed to the punk.

There are some moments in the thirteen song effort that seem a little bland, or just repetitive at times, but on the whole, 'Exister' is a fantastic comeback record for Hot Water Music, which offers the style we know and love, combined with some new little surprises to help renew everyone's interest.

1. Mainline
2. Boy, You're Gonna Hurt Someone
3. State of Grace
4. Down in It
5. Drag My Body
6. Safety
7. Exister
8. Wrong Way
9. Take No Prisoners
10. Pledge Wore Thin
11. No End Left in Sight
12. The Traps
13. Paid in Full