Words by Bill San Antonio
Before Hot Water Music’s new album, Exister, can be properly criticized within the 2012 music landscape, it is important to consider its title. Exister, as in, after eight years, the “will they/won’t they” speculation of a follow-up to 2004’s The New What’s Next is over. Exister, as in, the handful of shows the band played since their ‘permanent’ hiatus in 2005 led to something substantial. Exister, as in, after eight years, Hot Water Music exists again – their reunion is official, serious and tangible – because Exister, well, exists. If the album’s opening guitar riff is any indication, the band’s reunion is most certainly for the better.
After all, releasing an album after eight years of inactivity is a risky thing to do. People change. They grow and mature. They approach life differently – they live. It would be fair to expect change – any change, really – to be present on Exister, particularly because Hot Water Music hasn’t created new music in eight years. The risk in releasing the record isn’t in playing with each other again as Hot Water Music, but rather in creating new music as a band. Hot Water Music isn’t the same band it was in 2004 – guitarist/vocalist Chuck Ragan hadn’t begun his roots-rock project as a singer songwriter, bassist Jason Black hadn’t played with Senses Fail, and drummer George Rubelo hadn’t joined Against Me! – therefore the music was bound to sound different, too.
Exister‘s changes, however, are slight. Hot Water Music hasn’t abandoned its Gainesville, Fl. punk style of hard riff stacked atop hard riff. The songs are loud and aggressive, hitting in short bursts of in-your-face energy for the album’s 37:57 entirety. There is no let-up, there is no mercy, except for the brief guitar breaks during the verses of ‘Drag My Body’ on which Ragan’s folk influence can be felt – and the introductory build-up of the album’s title track, which explodes once Chris Wollard’s vocals begin.
On Exister, Hot Water Music doesn’t sound like a band humoring its fans by making a record after so long – they sound rejuvenated, happy to be playing music together again. They sound like a band happy to exist, but aspiring for much more.
© May 15th, 2012
TheWaster.com | Ragan