From the opening track, “Mainline,” it would appear that HWM are indeed ready for another solid bout of ass-kicking. Vocalists Chuck Ragan and Chris Wollard’s dueling vocal styles still bounce off each other in the dirty fashion that makes their sound so appealing in all the first place. While a majority of the genre was busy getting hijacked in the early 2000s by the pop-punk and metalcore movements, Hot Water Music were one band that reminded all the old jaded punk rockers who were raised on the genre since 1994 that punk rock can be a fantastic genre and a legit form of music, as long as it is done right.
It is fitting that the band enlisted punk rock producer extraordinaire Bill Stevenson and his Blasting Room Studio for Exister; Stevenson has a knack for knowing just exactly how much to clean up a band’s sound. Exister is crisp and clean in just the right amount. The guitars echo off each other in guttural tones; bassist Jason Black and drummer George Rebelo are still there but are hidden off in the back just a bit. Hot Water Music was always the battle between Ragan and Wollard mashing their guitars and howling into the microphones. Songs like “State of Grace” showcase the late ’90s Hot Water Music sound that made the band such a popular underground band to begin with.
The beauty of Exister is that if you are clicking on this link, then it means you are a fan of Hot Water Music. And if you are a fan of Hot Water Music, it probably means the last time you were at a punk show, you felt a little bit old and a little bit out of place. Hot Water Music need to exist for old punkers to still have a place in their heart to remember why punk rock kept them alive through their formative years. In that sense, Hot Water Music have hit it out of the park once again. Exister is everything that is right about Hot Water Music, before the scene became hijacked by pop-punk.