May 15, 2012 - Rise
This review originally ran in AP 287.
Fans apprehensive about Hot Water Music’s first new album in eight years should find plenty to enjoy on Exister. They sound revitalized, especially Chuck Ragan, who bookends the album with perhaps its most urgent tracks, which are anchored by some of his most powerful vocal performances (“Mainline,” “Paid In Full”). While some of the Chris Wollard-fronted material is more melodic (“Drown In It,” the title track), plenty of Exister is more experimental (the freewheeling guitars of “Boy, You’re Gonna Hurt Someone,” the plodding heaviness of “No End Left In Sight”). Additionally, obvious nods to the band’s more unconventional post-hardcore early days don’t go unnoticed, such as Jason Black’s bass wizardry in “Drag My Body.” Exister serves as a reminder that the thousands of bands aping this style of punk will never be as great as Hot Water Music.