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Hell Or Highwater: Vista
Hell Or Highwater - Vista CD Album Review

Hell Or Highwater: Vista

Modern Melodic Heavy/Hard Rock
4.0/5.0

My knowledge of California band Hell Or Highwater is limited by the press material supplied by their label, Finland's Spinefarm Records. The band was started by Atreyu drummer Brian Saller when that band went on a three year hiatus beginning in 2011. For Hell Or Highwater, Saller, the principal songwriter, steps out from behind the kit to be the lead vocalist. They delivered their first album Begin Again in 2011, and return now with Vista. The album is named for the town in Southern California, where many of the band members call home.

Hell Or Highwater Band Photo

Hell Or Highwater

Honestly, I hesitated to review Hell Or Highwater and Vista, simply because of the association with Atreyu. I pretty much despise all metalcore, even if, at times, a band attempts to blend in melody and clean vocals. Apparently the latter was Saller's job in Atreyu. Thankfully, I'm able to preview an EPK before downloading. Hell Or Higher is not metalcore. Thank you, Jesus. The general genre fit would be modern melodic hard rock, with heavier metal overtones, definitely d-tuned in a post-grunge kind of way. And, as far as I can recall, there are no harsh or hardcore vocals. Saller can sing assertive, even slightly screamo, but remains melodic and strong. Personally, I liked his style more than I thought I might. Additionally, the overall vocal arrangements, notably in the backing vocals, offer some significant harmony. Surprises abound. Good examples of the vocal arrangements include within Another Good Time, Lighter Than Air, and the terrific Blister.

Mostly, Vista rocks in the best sense of classic melodic hard rock with a metal edge. Heavier pieces with assertive riffs and a solid bottom end come with Walk Out In The Rain, Don't Stop Get Up, and the first single I Want It All. Stealing a cue or page from classic rock HoH gives you the vibe of groove in every song, memorable hooks in the refrains, and blistering guitar solos. Taking these an alternative step sideways, songs like Revolution, Washed Away, and the aforementioned Lighter Than Air nearly invoke an AOR sensibility and so, accessibility. All these things make fore a richly diverse album, even one that may turn some modern and alternative rock on its head. Simple conclusion, I liked Vista. I think you might too.



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The Bottom Line

The general genre fit for Hell Or Highwater's Vista would be modern melodic hard rock, with heavier metal overtones, and definitely d-tuned in a post-grunge kind of way. Mostly, Vista rocks in the best sense of classic melodic hard rock with a metal edge.

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