Hot Water Music – Exister
Most of these “reunions” bands that have been coming back into the limelight seem to be reaching for two different types of ears. The first and foremost is that they want to capture new listeners and in order to do this, they ultimately try something different. The second is that they want to cater to older fans and in order to accomplish that, sometimes have certain ways of pandering. It’s a delicate situation and one that is ripe for lackluster results. However, Hot Water Music have seemed to defy that situation and have come back with a vengeance. Fresh off their 7” The Fire, The Steel, The Tread – Adds Up To Nothing which showcased a clear return to form for the band, they signed with primarily hardcore/pop-punk based label Rise Records. While this was certainly a cause of alarm, the band wasted no time and headed back in the studio with legendary punk producer Bill Stevenson to record Exister.
The album starts on a rather dark note with songs such as “Mainline” and “Boy, You’re Gonna Hurt Someone”. The songs have a more aggressive feel to them than any other song the band has written before and at times it feels like could be trying to appeal to the dark side of the Rise family. Oddly enough, after those two songs the album kicks into high gear with the upbeat and catchy “State of Grace”. The band powers through the album but the darker elements are still there. For example, on “Drown in It” and title track “Exister”, the guitar riffs almost have a Motorhead feel. The band have not lost their ability to create a powerful anthem sound though as songs like “Drag My Body” and “The Traps” have a classic garage punk sound. The best parts of the band lie in their simplicity though, such as the song “Wrong Way” which main hook is “We’re taking a wrong way / whenever / wherever we go we find something wrong”. Everyone has felt like they have made a wrong turn in life and repeatedly felt like life was kicking them to the ground. It’s the conviction that the band takes which makes it significant.
Exister is the album that Hot Water Music needed to get their feet off the ground again. Simply put, it’s a triumph. While there are songs to pick and choose from, the album works best as a whole and leaves you wanting more. This is an album that can open up doors to new fans and bring back those who grew with the band. With every Hot Water Music release, the band shows off its array of layering distorted guitar riffs, dual vocals, and a general sense of raw emotion. Exister is no exception and at times takes their signature sound above and beyond.— Dave Giumara, 05/09/2012