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One Path Review of Hot Water Music’s Exister LP

Hot Water Music - Exister

Band: Hot Water Music
Album: Exister
Record Label: Rise Records
Release Date: May 15, 2012

One Path Review is a special column feature by Thomas Schlatter (Black Kites, Less Life, Capacities) of One Path For Me Blog. Thomas will be breaking off a review or two per month, exclusively for Blow The Scene. We launch his column today with a review of Hot Water Music‘s forthcoming LP, Exister.

It’s been a very long time since that night back in 1996 when I experienced Hot Water Music for the first time in a cramped New Brunswick basement. Their gruff exterior and gritty take on melodic post hardcore was unlike any other that a band had done before. They seem to tackle their melodies with passion and ease, backed by some tastefully busy drumming and bass lines that took their notes for a walk. I recall everyone being awe inspired by the vocal solo in “Eating The Filler”, as two voices clashed and came into sync. Those were the days. We all knew this band was something special, but I never really considered that 16 years later I would see them reaching the capacity they’ve come to.

So here we are at the present. Hot Water Music has released their second album in a decade, Exister. The production here is on point, making it easy for the listener to get wrapped up into the mix. It has a great life to it that brings the excitement of the music out to you. With the advent of the “Dad Rock” explosion of sub par top 40 bands like Nickleback; it’s a fine line that this gruff voiced rock style has to walk to not fall into such a genre. The tough line that Hot Water Music has to tread here is something interesting that comes to mind while listening to it. I think Hot Water Music can use this to their advantage in creating a more universal appeal, while still communicating something more genuine and honest.

This is a more upbeat Hot Water Music in my opinion and perhaps even leans a bit more on the “happier” elements in their delivery at times (just listen to the bounciness of “State of Grace”). The first 4 songs come out of the gate with some upbeat charm and catchy melodies. They take things down a notch with “Drag My Body” which shows the band being able to do a mid tempo rock song without falling into the aforementioned “Dad Rock” trap.

The title track, “Exister”, reminds me of the more classic sound of the band’s past. With its opening finger-picked bass line and melodic, textured guitars, they take me back to the mid 90’s on this one. “Take No Prisoners” exhibits a gruff verse that also reminds me why I liked this band in the first place. The passion and desperation peaks out in these moments and I think this where the band’s strength has always been. Though, I must admit my confusion when “Pledge Worn Thin” began playing. The ska-like guitars and vocal delivery of the verse, coupled with a chorus that falls a bit too far into mainstream territory sounded out of place among this collection of songs. They go further with the experimentation with “No End In Sight”, which conjures the soundtrack from an old Western movie. It’s an interesting turn but I would probably file it as one of the weaker tracks on the record.

The band brings us back for a strong finish though, as “The Traps” and “Paid In Full” both belt out that upbeat desperation that this band delivers quite well. Hot Water Music are back, that’s for sure and I can’t help but give them credit for having worked out a great balance of refining their sound while still maintaining what made them great all those years ago.

Review by Thomas Schlatter of One Path For Me blog.

Track list:

1. Mainline
2. Boy, You’re Gonna Hurt Someone
3. State of Grace
4. Drown 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

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