Hot Water Music
Fuel for the Hate Game



by Shadowed Reflection USER (8 Reviews)
January 20th, 2009 | 13 replies

Release Date: 1997 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Initially appearing as a punk album, repeated listens reveal much, much more...

By the time Hot Water Music came to be, the emo scene of the early 90's had just entered it's second phase, with the release of Sunny Day Real Estate's ground breaking Diary and Jawbreaker's Dear You a year later. These two albums showcased the slower, more musically inclined versions of emo with less obvious punk influences. Hot Water Music, however, blended the fast emocore influence with what that of which the aforementioned bands were trying to achieve, and created a sound characterised by hoarse, nearly incomprehensible vocals with strong, prominent rhythms that dominated their output.

The second (some argue third) album from Hot Water Music demonstrates a different expression of emotion that most fans of emo are used to. Instead of it being channelled through the vocalist's expression and lyrics, Hot Water Music were able to produce music that was emotional in sheer terms of musical expression as a collective. An example of this can be heard straight off the first track, 220 years: The song is introduced with a chugging, syncopated rhythm; all instruments co-operating in perfect timing. Then a riff slips though, the rest of the band complimenting it as it continues. When the vocals come in, the band dies down so you can hear them. Chuck's scratched, strained voice is off-putting to some, but in terms of the sound the band are aiming to achieve, it couldn't work better. When the chorus comes around, Chuck is backed by Chris, both weaving in and out of each other's lines, screaming at the top of their voice, not because they can, but because it is necessary for making the song what it is; it would be lazy to not put the feeling that they do into it. All the while, they do not overpowering each other, or any other band member for that matter.

It is this concept of musicianship that separates them from other emo bands: On it's own, no particular part is able to express even a fraction of what the band achieves when all are combined. Which isn't to say that each member of HWM is not outstanding, the bass player Jason Black is particularly talented, many songs are centred around his agile, jazzy licks and lines.

Freightliner is arguably the best track here, and also the most distinct, being a relatively slow song compared to the other tracks. The emotion in this track is the strongest on the album, and hence has it's place not at the start, not tucked away at the end, but right in the middle of the album. The song makes great use of dynamics, with it's slow, brooding verses, to the fast, intense, shout along chorus which again utilises both vocalists in the most effective way possible. The song also allows the guitarist to showcase his melodic side, soloing before the washed out, depressed vocals in the verses.

The album works best on vinyl, split into two halves. Not only is this the way the band intended (the liner notes claim that the CD copy is for professional use only), but it divides the album nicely: nothing is more solid than the first side of the record, I personally would not change a thing about the order of tracks. The second side is less impressive, but is worth it for North & About and the final track, Drunken Third.

Overall, I would recommend this album for fans of punk music, who are open to the more emotional side of hardcore. At first the album can be a bit inaccessible due to the roughness of the vocalists (yes, both of them), but is ultimately rewarding, as is the rest of their catalogue. Thanks for reading

220 Years
North and About
Drunken Third

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user ratings (242)
other reviews of this album
Cesar (4)
The album that pushed Hot Water Music into the spotlight is an excellent effort that will have some ...

Elijah9 (5)
A masterpiece that manages to stay consistent throughout its entire duration....

DrunkenThird (4.5)
i never wondered, i never bothered, i never cared what i wanted to be about - 220 Years...

Comments:Add a Comment 
January 20th 2009


cool. good review.

great band, i have all their albums but i still need to listen to some of them, this included

Shadowed Reflection
January 20th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Oh man, definitely get this one. Especially if you have the rest of their output. I'd implore you to find it on vinyl, it was reissued not too long ago.

January 20th 2009


This sounds awesome. I've never heard of them, but by your description, I think I'd like them a lot.

Great review by the way.

January 20th 2009


These guys are hella cool, some of the stuff they were doing was seriously ahead of their time.

Digging: Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

January 20th 2009


nice review, good to see you back after reading some of your old stuff.

January 20th 2009


this is so so good, probably their best

January 20th 2009


album is probably their best.

although it is so hard to decide. great, great, great band.

January 20th 2009


Album Rating: 4.0

This is a really great album. I don't really like much else Hot Water Music has put out, though, to be honest.

January 20th 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

it's a close-run thing between this and "caution" for being my favourite HWM album. depends on my mood at the time of asking really...

great review though, although how could you not mention the awesomeness of "i must always remember... THERE'S NO POINT TO SURRENDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"?!?!

also, this is their first (arguably second) full length, as the only non-7inch before it was "finding the rhythms" which could be viewed as a compilation.

Shadowed Reflection
January 21st 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Finding the rhythms was a compilation? Wow, I had no idea. And I did mention Turnstile, just not the lyrics haha.

Shadowed Reflection
January 21st 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

Also, I bumped the rating up to a 4.5. I think My review of it kinda implies that it is better than a 4.

January 21st 2009


Funny, I was gonna make a list today of emo-albums that I should get since I don't have a lot yet.. So I tried my luck and googled "emo classics", it took me to where you had posted this review..
Then I open sputnik, it's right there as well!
Good review. I will get this for sure.

January 21st 2009


Album Rating: 4.5

FTR is kinda a compilation, it says on the no idea website:

1-7 Recorded April 29-30, 1995 by Steve Heritage

8-12 Recorded January 21, 1995 by Tommy Hamilton

and Released: Late 1995

i mean it's not unusual for a full-length to be recorded in multiple sessions, but from what i can gather, most if not all of the songs were released on compilations, 7inches etc. between sessions and before the album came out...

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