I’ve never been to Vista, California, however, based upon its geographical location, it’s minutes away from San Diego, and I know that San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities in the world from a cultural, landscape, and tourist standpoint. I imagine Vista to have similar vibes to San Diego, and I get the same vibes when I listen to this phenomenal offering that Hell Or Highwater released on May 19th via Spinefarm Records.
Hell Or Highwater is composed of Brandon Saller(who also drums in Atreyu) on vocals, Kyle Rosa on drums, Joey Bradford on guitar, Jon Hoover on guitar, and Nick Maldonado on bass/synthesizers. They went into the studio since their 2011 release, and whatever inspired them, which I’m sure is life that inspired them, and proceeded to pen roughly 80 songs in preparation for “Vista”. They utilized the time that they had with Atreyu and the expertise of producer Fred Archambault(Avenged Sevenfold, Atreyu) to produce this. What came out is one of the most pristine albums that freaking grows on me with each listen!
“Vista” starts off with the emotional rollercoaster entitled “Colors”. “Colors” seems to take a social commentary perspective, which can also be interpreted as a sports anthem type of song urging the listener to “wear your colors proud”. I love how raw and authentic the opening track feels, as I realized that I’m in for an absolute treat for this record. Treat as in you’re visiting Grandma’s house and something piping hot and loaded with sugar is baking in the oven. Hell Or Highwater offers that type of vibe along with riding the waves off the beaches of California. From an accessibility standpoint, this record is for any genre. Then chills went down my spine on the second track.
After “Colors” is a track entitled “Walk Out In The Rain”. The guitar tone along with the somber ambiance offered in “Walk Out In The Rain” provides for moments of clarity and we get to hear the prowess of Brandon Saller’s vocals. There is a total artistic freedom that Brandon has in this band that I’m not quite sure is there with Atreyu. Joey and Jon show incredible guitar intertwining in the arrangements and the rhythm section has that groove that is sexy and uncanny. It’s rare for me to call a song “sexy”, but I have no other way to describe it! “Don’t Hate Me” provides that mainstream rock feel with a touch of blues in the verses where it kicks into the anthemic chorus that is mandatory in a mainstream rock song. It reminded me in a weird sort of way something that Three Days Grace would see, except this song exudes a ton of passion. “Another Good Time” could be the rock anthem of the summer if it catches the right break. It is catchy as all get out, it has a classic rock, fuzz-rock vibe to it, and the rhythm section is pulsating. The bass tone that Nick provides is second to none, and I love how the guitar tones kick in and I love the “woos” in the background vocals, which makes for an incredibly fun track to rock out to. AND THE GUITAR SOLO IN THE INSTRUMENTAL BREAK! These are the types of songs that living room dance parties are made for.
Hell Or Highwater, while having that laidback vibe while rocking out vibe in the record, offers some unique themes of “being an old soul” in “Dame”, which seems to challenge the listener to value life experiences over material possessions. Other themes include perseverance in “Don’t Stop, Get Up”, which reminds the listener to get back up if you get knocked down again.
This is undoubtedly the mainstream rock record of the year so far. I am giving it a 6/5 star rating! The record is absolute perfection from start to finish. The soaring anthems, the experimental guitar tones, the blues incorporated into the rock, the indie vibe incorporated into the rock, and some of the songs are so infectious that if it was a disease it would be a worldwide epidemic by now. Congratulations to Hell Or Highwater for blowing my mind with this offering! Check out the track listing below!
“Vista” by Hell Or Highwater
- “Walk Out In The Rain”
- “Don’t Hate Me”
- “Another Good Time”
- “Lighter Than Air”
- “Don’t Stop. Get Up”
- “Washed Away”
- “I Want It All”
Here is the music video to “I Want It All”
Hell Or Highwater will be on tour with Stitched Up Heart! Check their Facebook page for tour dates! Here’s where you can find Hell Or Highwater: