As Cities Burn
Hell Or High Water


3.5
great

Review

by Sean Rizzo USER (32 Reviews)
April 23rd, 2009 | 27 replies | 3,185 views


Release Date: 2009 | Tracklist


2 of 2 thought this review was well written

Since more or less abandoning post-hardcore and metalcore musings in favor of calm, intensely melodic and sweeping passages on their sophomore album Come Now Sleep, Louisiana quartet As Cities Burn has been nothing short of an absolute wildcard. They haven’t exactly cemented themselves in one particular direction, resulting in a mixed bag of diverse, yet strangely connected, songs. This rings especially true for Hell or High Water, an expansion of just about everything hinted at on the last album. In addition to elaborating on past staples like meandering guitar work and soaring vocals, new stuff has been thrown in to spice things up. There’s horns. There’s handclaps. There’s what sounds like very heavy chains being dragged across an old wooden floor. And there’s even a groovy, near danceable track. But don’t you fret, Come Now Sleep fans. There are still droning songs with dreamy passages and almost (but not really) post-rock tendencies. There’s a lot to love here, but there’s not much you won’t forget the moment the album is over.

Hell or High Water is all over the place. At times it’s happy and free-spirited (it’s hard not to get excited when the buzzing bass and upbeat tempos of opener “’84 Sheepdog” parade along), and at others it’s melancholy and subdued (see: the depressive nature of “Daughter”). And there’s feel-good rock numbers like “Petty” and “Pirate Blues”. The overall sound of the album has a slight indie feel to it, and perhaps that’s part of why it feels like an album despite being so varied. Another constant is Cody Bonnette’s passionate style of singing; his soaring vocals are a definite highlight throughout the entire record. His vocals are the only thing to save some of the tracks like “Into the Sea” that are completely boring otherwise. The aforementioned lack of any real direction for As Cities Burn both helps and hurts this album. Things like the variety of styles and occasional surprise like the sudden change of pace at the end of “Lady Blue” help to keep it interesting, but there is a feeling of uninspiration that seeps through the music more often than I’d like. There are times when the only interesting part of the music is Bonnette’s vocals, while the rest of the band seem to either play with extreme fatigue or apathy. Now, I understand that when the mood is droning and subdued that this kind of playmanship is intentional, but these moments still don’t hang around in my head after I listen, whereas other parts of the record do. Sometimes I just want the song to end, even if it’s only a minute or two in.

There’s no question that this record is brimming with creativity and charisma; it’s certainly helped As Cities Burn obtain their own sound, an enigma that has evolved from harsh post-hardcore tones to intricate guitar lines and dreamy passages to a product that includes all of the above (but very little of the former) and then some. One of my favorite things about this record is you can put it on in just about any mood. The problem is it only satisfies whatever mood that may be while it’s playing; boring moments render it difficult to retain anything after it’s over. However, there is still plenty to love here, and while Hell or High Water isn’t their most consistent album, it’s certainly their funnest. It’s a shame the band is largely expected to break up now that the album has been released, because they are definitely on to something.

Recommended Songs:
“’84 Sheepdog”
“Made Too Pretty”
“Lady Blue”



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Comments:Add a Comment 
mynameischan
Staff Reviewer
April 23rd 2009



17920 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i wouldn't say they completely abandoned post hardcore on come now sleep but yeh

i've still only listened to this once so 3.5 isn't really an accurate rating for me

IAmInsect
April 23rd 2009



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

ya i agree. fixed for you :*

but i don't like this review in general.This Message Edited On 04.23.09

marksellsuswallets
April 23rd 2009



4848 Comments


You said "funnest" in the last paragraph =(

That makes me sad...This Message Edited On 04.23.09

Waior
April 23rd 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I love it's amiable to any mood too. Solid review.



roofi
April 23rd 2009



959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

hopefully the exposure this album's getting will lead more people to come now sleep, which is generally underappreciated on this site and superior to this album imo

solid review mediocre

Waior
April 23rd 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

superior to this album imo


Can I mention that Colin's vocals have improved marginally on this record?

Golgoroth
April 23rd 2009



1084 Comments


At the moment I still like Come Now Sleep better, but I agree that the vocals are hugely improved.

roofi
April 23rd 2009



959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yeah good call his vocals have improved greatly, especially in comparison to where they were at on "son i loved you..."

Waior
April 23rd 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

On on Timothy..

IAmInsect
April 24th 2009



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

made too pretty rules so hard

Golgoroth
April 24th 2009



1084 Comments


Whole album rules hard really, there are just a few moments that kinda drag.

MusicinaBox
April 25th 2009



513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

i thought Cody held back his vocals on this CD compared to Come Now Sleep. other than obvious songs ('84 Sheepdog, Capo for example) he seems to restrain his raw emtion. that was one of the things i found at fault w/ this album.

MusicinaBox
April 25th 2009



513 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

wait is his name Colin?

roofi
April 25th 2009



959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

no it's cody, colin's the bass player

Waior
April 26th 2009



11425 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Music, Cody's vocals imo were pretty bad when he set them loose and "emotional" on Come Now Sleep.This Message Edited On 04.26.09

IAmInsect
April 26th 2009



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

i think his vocals have always been great.

Starsprophet
April 28th 2009



6 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I find myself extraordinarily bored throughout most of the middle of this album (Made Too Pretty, Lady Blue, and Petty), which holds it back a lot. I also prefer the vocals on Come Now Sleep much more to the vocals on this album... I find that they were far more emotive on the last album even if they are a lot more rough.

Honestly though, the biggest reason that this isn't nearly as good as Come Now Sleep is the lack of inspiration that I sense in almost all of the songs. Come Now Sleep feels like a behemoth of existential angst and doubt about yourself (and even their belief in God). As a result I feel that it is a much more touching and lasting album. Pretty much all these songs (except for some parts on the more energetic tracks) go in one ear and out the other.

Oh well, maybe it will grow on me

IAmInsect
April 28th 2009



3800 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

^i feel the same way about a lot of that.

WhiteTieBlackJacket
April 28th 2009



785 Comments


On some article on ACB on this site, someone commented that they went to one of their shows and the band was drunk and they basically made complete fools of themselves. I seriously hope that didn't contribute to any talent lost on this record. I got it for my birthday but I've only listened to it once.

roofi
April 28th 2009



959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pretty sure that guy was making stuff up

also i agree a lot with what starsprophet said, even though i still really like this



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