As Cities Burn - Hell or High Water (Cover Artwork)

As Cities Burn

As Cities Burn: Hell or High WaterHell or High Water (2009)
Tooth & Nail Records

Reviewer Rating: 3.5
User Rating:

Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

iTunes StoreAmazon

As Cities Burn started on the Solid State roster as playing a sound that was pretty typical of the label -- melodic, metallic, slick and screamy post-hardcore ¡ la Beloved. They took an even more melodic turn on their following album, but now, with their third full-length, Hell or High Water is quite an unprecedented progression.

Hell or High Water better fits the mold of pensive and layered, quasi-indie rock that would put them comfortably on a bill with, say, Manchester Orchestra and Colour Revolt. While ACB don't ever necessarily sound like either of those bands (save the MO traces on "Pirate Blues"), there's something about the album -- Biblical references? Southern feel? -- and its carefully lush flow that conveys so many similar sonic qualities. There's perfectly tasteful amounts of auxiliary instrumentation scattered about the album, from tambourine to organ to other various keys, and even "bottles & file cabinets" at one point. It's not always the easiest to emotionally connect with leader Cody Bonnette's careful musings, but every song minimally maintains mildly mesmerizing moments.

With only nine linear, easily flowing tracks, standouts come in the form of the hook-laden "'84 Sheepdog," where Bonnette snarls "they fixed your brain when you were young," and the six-minute "Lady Blue." There's also "Pirate Blues," where guitars fuzz their way through, the drums carefully boom and Bonnette's fragile voice is put through a rigorous test with the energy and oddly upbeat tension leading him to corrosively howl "OHHHHH! Say you don't know if you don't!" by track's end. The sped-up Band-esque bridge is neat, too. Closer "Capo" has more versatile vocals and sort of a funky vibe -- it's cool, but it ends the album in a bizarrely abrupt fashion and one's left wondering where the band's hiding that epic finish.

Hell or High Water is merely a quietly pleasant and stylistically surprising effort from a band who's clearly solidified themselves as one of Tooth & Nail's more thoughtful and artistic acts.

'84 Sheepdog
Errand Run
Into the Sea
Pirate Blues


People who liked this also liked:
The Lawrence Arms - Oh! Calcutta!The Clash - London CallingBrand New - The Devil and God Are Raging Inside MeRefused - The Shape of Punk to ComeManchester Orchestra - Mean Everything to NothingCrime in Stereo - I Was Trying to Describe You to SomeoneAgainst Me! - is Reinventing Axl RoseThe Lawrence Arms - The Greatest Story Ever ToldAt The Drive-In - Relationship Of CommandAgainst Me! - As The Eternal Cowboy

Please login or register to post comments.What are the benefits of having a Punknews.org account?
  • Share your opinion by posting comments on the stories that interest you
  • Rate music and bands and help shape the weekly top ten
  • Let Punknews.org use your ratings to help you find bands and albums you might like
  • Customize features on the site to get the news the way you want.
Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
crazyjoedevola (June 2, 2009)

I'll reiterate what Allular said. You can find "Gates" on plenty of blogs. Get it and it makes this album that much better.

Allular (June 2, 2009)

The epic ending was on "Gates", the last song on the iTunes release, which should've been on the physical release. They've been playing the song since their "last" tour in 2005. The fans who bought the cd (like myself) got shafted. Find it online and you have your epic ending.

sundowning10 (June 2, 2009)

Very good album, I liked Come Now Sleep better, but this is almost as good. Into the Sea is now one of my favorites by them.

ryne (June 2, 2009)

"minimally maintains mildly mesmerizing moments."

That is some intense alliteration.

SydBarrett420 (June 2, 2009)

This band sucks now bottom line

HeresLookinAtYou (June 2, 2009)

I actually liked Come Now Sleep a lot.

This doesn't quite measure up to that album, but still a solid effort.

Exclusive Streams


Newest Reviews

Punknews.org Team

Managing Editor

Adam White

Contributing Editors

Kira Wisniewski Brittany Strummer Armando Olivas John Flynn Chris Moran John Gentile Mark Little

Copy Editor

Adam Eisenberg Britt Reiser

Podcast Producer

Greg Simpson


Aubin Paul

ISSN 1710-5366

© Copyright 1999-2013 Punknews.org

Terms of Use Privacy Policy Contact Us About Punknews.org

Other Places to Go