Hell Or Highwater is a new project featuring Atreyu drummer/vocalist Brandon Saller. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, it does have some elements of Atreyu. Not many, but some. It’s inevitable. This album is different though. It’s more of a hard rock album with tinges of metal tossed in here and there. How different you ask? Well, if the fact that the band is opening for The Darkness on their upcoming tour is any indication for you, it’s pretty different. Let me be clear though, it’s not Atreyu, it’s DEFINITELY Hell Or Highwater. As always, I’ll hit what I feel are a few highlights. It’s up to you to discover the rest of the album. Initial Thoughts is our series. Begin Again is the album. Let’s do this.
First up is the single Gimme Love. The first thing you’ll notice is that classic sounding second guitar before the verse. I really love the tone here and I hope it is a signature throughout the album. With a very singable chorus, reminiscent of later Atreyu, this song is a no-brainer to grab the attention of long time fans, if nothing else, than to let them know that new music has arrived. Great single from this debut album.
Terrorized In the Night is the next tune that caught my attention. Again, with that classic second guitar, the song really grabs you and pulls you in. The chorus is one of my favorites on the album. The subject matter is grim and the delivery is perfect. What more could you ask for?
The first song that you’ll notice takes a large turn from the heavier material is Tragedy. It’s almost a ballad. Almost…I did say almost. The elements are there, but it still keeps its edge. It’s a song that shares the emotions that anyone feels during a rough patch in life. Specifically, the loss of someone you care for. This song is possibly my favorite on the album and I think it has a bright future for the band.
Next up is Rock Waters Edge. Perhaps the most polished, radio-friendly song on the album. It’s a bit on the poppy side of things. Surprisingly, the band pulls it off very well. You’d think that oooooohh’s and aaaaaaahh’s would kill the mood on this record, but it fits. Think Seven Mary Three, with cleaner vocals. That’ll get you started on this one.
Go Alone is a song that features the one, the only M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold. It’s more outlaw country than metal. No, seriously. With a Western feel on the guitar tones, it’s as if Muse meets Johnny Cash with M. Shadows singing a few parts. Think about that a second. I absolutely love this song, and it’s easily one of the top 3 on the album for me. I’ll say this though, other than the cool factor, Brandon could have easily pulled this song off himself. None the less, it’s awesome!
I mention When the Morning Comes for one simple reason; Crossover potential. Depending on what direction management takes this band, this song could do well on multiple charts. I’m on the fence about this one to be honest. On an album that is rock oriented and has heavy tendencies, this one is by far the softest tune. The usual aggression in the vocal delivery is completely dialed back, and you hear a stripped down vocal approach. This one will be played acoustically on every radio station, in every city the band visits. I’ll leave this one for you to make a judgement on.
The album closes with a trifecta of tunes. They are a mixed bag of songs, of which include Crash & Burn, Come Alive, and We All Wanna Go Home. I’ll pick the latter to finish up my review. We All Wanna Go Home is a killer track to end the album on. With it’s driving backbeats, melodic guitars, and HUGE singable chorus, the song does exactly what it’s supposed to do…it leaves you wanting more.
To sum it all up for you, this album is one of the first must owns of 2013. Begin Again is the title, and it’s also a mission statement. With Atreyu on a self-imposed hiatus, Brandon Saller has found the creative outlet he needs and is poised to do big things with this lineup. Remember, as always, buy it, don’t steal it.
★★★★★★★★★☆ 9 out of 10 stars.