Review Summary: The album that pushed Hot Water Music into the spotlight is an excellent effort that will have some fans wishing for 1998 to be back.
The importance of Hot Water Music in the current punk scene can’t be denied. A listen to bands like Strike Anywhere and Comeback Kid is enough to see the influence Hot Water Music has today. Fuel For The Hate Game
represents what the late 90’s punk was all about. The album that pushed Hot Water Music into the spotlight is an excellent effort that will have some fans wishing for 1998 to be back.
From the start Fuel For The Hate Game
shows its technical superiority to the latest Hot Water Music releases. This doesn’t necessarily make the album better than the rest, but it does make it different and more varied. Instead of just laying back and relying on progressive chords and power chords, the band taps deeper into their creativity and keep the listener on its toes. In the song Turnstile
the listener can appreciate the combination between melodic riffs and solo lines, the intense dual guitars, and even improvised sections which were something the band sometimes used while recording.
Did you ever wonder what the result would be if in a punk band you had a drummer and a bassist that used to play jazz together? You get a superb rhythm backbone the likes of which I’d never heard in a punk album before. It turns into the force that drives the album and keeps it tightly together. Just listen to the song Trademark
to encounter the magnitude of what I’m trying to describe; listen to the bass provide the melody in which the song is build, listen to the drums keep pace with the double speed of the guitars and keep the song together. In the end the result is nothing short of marvelous. Oh, and for all the bass fans out there, enjoy the 20 second bass solo in Rock Singer
Another characteristic of this album that was diminished in their last releases is the call-and-response dual vocals. Throughout the album these types of vocals prevail, raising the energy and providing an anthem-like power to the songs. Any song in the album will present this type of vocals, but one that nails it particularly well is Freightliner
. This vocal style is something that many band’s today utilize, The Lawrence Arms being one that pulls it off very well.
Even if we wish otherwise, no album is perfect and Fuel For The Hate Game
isn’t the exception. It is a shame that an album that starts off as strong as this one ends poorly. The last few songs drag and suffer from the lack of energy that was present trough most of the album. It is almost like if they recorded this non-stop and by the last few songs they were tired and wanted to go home. It’s a harsh metaphor because the songs aren’t bad, but is still kind of accurate. Another thing that might hold the album down is the production, giving it a gritty unpolished sound. People have different opinions when it comes to production, but for someone like me who likes a clean-clear sound, the production might feel like a hindrance that prevents getting more enjoyment from the album.
Fuel For The Hate Game
is the type of album many bands wish they could have done in just their second try. Powerful, influential, honest, different, it demonstrated that Hot Water Music was not just another generic punk band. Fuel For The Hate Game
not only makes a statement, it is one of the stones that make up the floor in which today’s punk bands create and play.