Album Review
As Cities Burn - Hell or High Water Album Cover

As Cities Burn - Hell or High Water

Reviewed by
As Cities BurnHell or High Water
Release Date: April 21, 2009
Record Label: Tooth & Nail
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
When creating music, or any kind of art, it is essential to try new things, push your boundaries, expand, and learn. Very few bands within the scene have evolved and challenged their creativity as much as As Cities Burn. The Louisiana quartet has transitioned from screaming and a metalcore vibe into a brooding sound that borders on sharp, driving guitar parts and emotionally heavy vocals.

The band almost didn’t even make it to this point. After the release of 2005’s Son, I Love You At Your Darkest, the band was all set to break up. But an outpouring of love and support from their fans convinced the band to stay together. After original vocalst T.J. Bonnette left the band for personal reasons, and guitarist Cody Bonnette took over vocal duties. They released Come Now, Sleep in 2007, which was a complete departure for the debut. Gone was the screaming and punishing guitars, replaced by clean vocals and an atmospheric vibe. Now, without all these trials and tribulations, the band’s third album, Hell or High Water, might have been a completely different album.

Continuing on the path Come Now, Sleep started, Hell or High Water offers a variety of paces, dynamics, and moods. “84’ Sheepdog” starts with driving guitars as Bonnette exclaims, “They fixed your brain when you were young!” With the uptempo pace set by drummer Aaron Lunsford and some guest screaming from T.J. Bonnette, the song is an energetic charger that sets the tone. “Into The Sea” flows in the vein of Come Now, Sleep, as Bonnette’s vocals really carry the song.

With a chunky bass line from Colin Kimble and a steady drumbeat, the stunning “Made Too Pretty” will become a fan favorite. Bonnette’s vocals are powerful, and are complimented by the guitar riff that periodically pops in during the track. The six-minute “Lady Blue” sludges along with a lonely guitar riff, group vocals, and what sounds like chains hitting a wooden floor, and then inexplicably transitions into an upbeat, guitar-driven track. “Petty” features a vibrant bass line and hard-hitting chorus that incorporates some Shakespeare.

“Capover” brings out a dance/Jonezetta vibe, and while as an individual track it is pretty good, within the context of the album it stands out as the weird uncle. But album closer “Gates” makes up for any misstep the previous track may have accounted for. “Gates” is the sum of all the parts that make As Cities Burn so appealing. It’s dark, menacing, and hauntingly beautiful. The track continues to build and build until it reaches the climax of crashing guitars and drum cymbals, as well as T.J. Bonnette (appearing once again) lending his empathetic howl. When “Gates” finally finishes, you’ll have chills and your finger will automatically hit “play” again.

My first impression after hearing Hell or High Water a few weeks ago was that it was good. Since then, that “good” has progressed to “great,” as Hell or High Water is As Cities Burn’s best album. There isn’t a dull moment, whether it’s the album pulling you in with its dreamy dynamics or kicking you in the gluteus maximus. With rumors swirling around that the band may be finished once again, it’s time to cherish what this group of four guys has created. If Hell or High Water really is As Cities Burn last hurrah, then what a triumphant one it is.

Additional InformationTrack Listing:
1. 84’ Sheepdog
2. Errand Rum
3. Into The Sea
4. Made Too Pretty
5. Lady Blue
6. Petty
7. Daughter
8. Pirate Blues
9. Capover
10. Gates
Produced by: Cody Bonnette and Tyler Orr

As Cities Burn is
Cody Bonnette – vocals/guitar
Colin Kimble – bass
Chris Lott – guitar
Aaron Lunsford – drums

Official Myspace; Official AP.net Profile

Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 169
07:16 AM on 04/16/09
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Nobodyhearsyou's Avatar
Good review. Now where the hell can I download it??
07:17 AM on 04/16/09
Registered User
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No Avatar Selected
I'm excited for this...and I miss seeing you! Take care sir!
07:19 AM on 04/16/09
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I want this so bad right now, I want to hear the mastered version of Gates.
07:24 AM on 04/16/09
"No more half measures Walt"
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batmannj's Avatar
Good review. Now where the hell can I download it??
you can get it here: http://www.zambooie.com/toothandnail...=TNDCOMBO34912

Excellent review Drew. I am excited for this record.
07:33 AM on 04/16/09
Tonight I'm Burning Star IV
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zubinmoosa's Avatar
Awesome review.
07:48 AM on 04/16/09
Here, It Never Snowed
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Kbm600's Avatar
Basically a copy, cut and paste of other reviews online.
Nothing could make me want this more than I already do.
I'm sure you're much more talented.

Sounds like a great CD, I'm glad to hear it might be their best. Come Now, Sleep was hard to get into, I'll try again after trying out this one.
07:49 AM on 04/16/09
Don't give me no hand me down love.
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Klatzke's Avatar
No more riyls? And solid review, but I'm terribly unable to get into this band anymore.
07:51 AM on 04/16/09
Drew Beringer
Senior Editor - @drewberinger - Locked Groove
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Drew Beringer's Avatar
No more riyls? And solid review, but I'm terribly unable to get into this band anymore.
I think Brand New fans will really dig this.
07:52 AM on 04/16/09
Rest is for the dead
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iAMhollyood315's Avatar
funny how different it is from their debut, however i really like the guitar work these guys have on all the records
07:57 AM on 04/16/09
what are you so afraid of
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hailthewarrior's Avatar
I really really really need to hear this.
07:58 AM on 04/16/09
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I think Brand New fans will really dig this.
Will. Check. Out.
07:58 AM on 04/16/09
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tvaJeff's Avatar
I could not be more excited for this. Picking a favorite between Come Now Sleep and Son has been impossible, so hopefully this will take the cake.
07:59 AM on 04/16/09
We never met, you and I
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awakeohsleeper's Avatar
Great review. I cannot wait till this comes through my door.
08:08 AM on 04/16/09
Nick Le
Yeezy taught me.
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Nick Le's Avatar
Great review. I'm so excited for my preorder to come now, looks I'm really going to love it.

If Hell or High Water really is As Cities Burn last hurrah, then what a triumphant one it is.

Yes! As sad as I'd be, this is great to read.

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