Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hell Or Highwater - The Other Side

Hell Or Highwater
The Other Side
US Records

When Californian outfit Hell Or Highwater released their debut full-length album ‘Begin Again’ in 2011, it slipped under the radar of most due to its relative low profile and its independent release.
But thanks to Pavement Entertaniment, Inc., the band’s debut was re-released in expanded form a year later, and the album was given a whole new lease of life with everyone sitting up and taking notice. And justifiably so too, as Hell Or Highwater’s debut was without a doubt one of 2011’s strongest hard rock releases, but criminally overlooked by most because of its limited exposure to the masses.
It’s been two years since the release of ‘Begin Again’, and now the band (Who comprise of Atreyu drummer/vocalist Brandon Saller (Who takes on the front man role within the group), guitarists Matt Pauling (Ex-The Confession) and Neal Tiemann (Midwest Kings/David Cook), bassist Joey Bradford (Thieves And Liars) and drummer Captain Carl) has returned with a new E.P. in the form of ‘The Other Side’. And once again, Hell Or Highwater has released another great winner.
The opening cut ‘Moment Of Clarity’ is a good example of how far the band has progressed within the last couple of years, with the song showcasing a greater sense of flow in the song writing, with the melodies seemingly more in synch with the rest of the band’s output, while on an individual performance point of view, Captain Carl’s drumming and the small pockets of guitar solos add a maturity to the song that wasn’t there a mere two years ago. Style wise, the song isn’t too much of a departure from what was offered on ‘Begin Again’. But then having said that, Hell Or Highwater already had a great sound back then (Classic ‘80’s hard rock, but updated with a modern and heavy edge), so it’s understandable why the band aren’t keen to give up on a formula that works so well for them just yet.
Next up is the title track ‘The Other Side’, which focuses more on the melodic side of the band’s song writing repertoire. While some may cringe at the thought of songs that’s a little easier on the ears, Hell Or Highwater manage to dodge the standard clich├ęs and deliver a song that finds the perfect balance between melodic accessibility and rock. ‘Wrong’ is a heavier cut that brings to mind Avenged Sevenfold to some extent, but stands out enough to stand on its own with its meaty riffs, the band’s clever use of canastas and huge hooks, while the anthem-like ‘Remember The Life And Not The Death’ is sure to have lighters (And mobile phones!) up in the air from a swaying crowd when played live.
Finishing up the E.P. is ‘Drowning In The Waves’, which is the perfect closer with its slow building intro, huge riffs, its equally massive rousing choruses and Saller’s impeccable vocals. The touch of Irish sing-along chanting around the latter half of the track is well done, and is sure to get a great reaction from fans when played live.
Overall, ‘The Other Side’ is another outstanding release from Hell Or Highwater. The only shame is that it’s an E.P., and not a full-length release.
If you managed to get a hold of ‘Begin Again’, and you enjoyed it, then get this. If on the other hand you’re unfamiliar with Hell Or Highwater, but you like hard rock - then seriously, you have to check this out.

For more information on Hell Or Highwater, check out - http://www.hellorhighwaterofficial.com/

© Justin Donnelly

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