HELL OR HIGHWATER – Vista (Album Review)

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Hell or Highwater VistaFive years. That is more than a Def Leppard period of anticipation between albums. Regardless, await I did. Having seen Hell or Highwater 5 years ago in Toronto opening for The Darkness where I was thoroughly impressed with their live delivery as well as the enthusiasm for the music after the show during a chat with them I was glad to hear they were working on a new one. I will confess I have never latched onto Atreyu, the band Hell or Highwater vocalist Brandon plays drums for but once Hell or Highwater began playing at the show I was hooked on their heavy sound, great angst-ridden lyrics and pounding drums and guitar attack all coming together in a refreshing metal sound. Nothing “nu” about it, straight ahead modern metal. Their first release Begin Again has been a regular on the playlist for the past half-decade. Now we are getting Vista. I had been keeping myself in the loop with news surrounding the band, their on again off again commitments to other projects and various member changes for the live shows interspersed, sadly none around my neck of the woods.

Vista begins with “Colors”. A strong start with the pounding sound I expected. The vocals are also on par with expectations.

Hell or Highwater“Walk Out in the Rain” is a good second track. I like it.

Track 3 is “Don’t Hate Me”, which I cannot say I don’t of the song. The start just makes me groan of the style. I like my anger music to still have melody or something.

I do like how “Another Good Time” begins with a string arrangement intro but as that concludes, the sound becomes a poor attempt at ska simply because they don’t commit to that sound.

Next few tracks are filler, nothing of note.

As for the remainder of the album. I just cannot envision myself listening to anything other than the first 2 tracks again. The last couple tracks have potential but do not sound complete to me, the final track “Revolution” sounds like it could be much better because it has some amazing sounds in portions.

Hell or HighwaterOverall the tempo is down and so are my thumbs here. It is missing something, well a lot really since Brandon is the only static part of Hell or Highwater it seems. I think I believe and presume what to be missing the most is Matt Pauling on guitar. I believe from cryptic messages here and there he has not been part of the band since 2013/2014 having moved more into a sound engineer role for other bands (one very popular one that I have a guilty pleasure of). I can only presume but you know when you have that gut feeling after talking with someone and they convey an enthusiasm for the music, that is Matt in a nutshell and I think that is what is missing. Not to mention his amazing talent as a guitar player.

Blair De Abreu

BUY: Vista

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