Hot Water Music – Exister Album Review

Before bands started reuniting to be cool, Gainsville, Florida punk stalwarts Hot Water Music gave a quick hiatus the middle finger it deserves. The quartet put out a few live 7″ in past years, but Exister is the band’s first full length in eight. The question remains as it always does with all punk — a musical genre that doesn’t really age the best — do Hot Water Music still have the energy to pull the whole act off?

 

 


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.

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Peter Woodburn

When people say they like all kinds of music, they usually add the caveat “except heavy metal”. Peter Woodburn doesn’t. In fact, he is almost always asking for more heavy metal. His love for music stems from seeing the Grateful Dead at the tender age of 11 years, and it hasn’t faded since. He loves everything from 15-minute-long bluegrass jams to thirty-second grindcore blasts, as well as everything in between. Give him a monster riff, though, and he will be forever happy.

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