Hoth- “Oathbreaker”

hoth oathbreaker cover

Hey readers, it’s time for another review. While I’m not one for holidays or holiday themed posts, the internet has collectively decided today is Star Wars Day, which means it’s the perfect time to share my thoughts on Hoth‘s impending album, OathbreakerWhile Seattle-based Hoth has clearly branded itself as supporting the Star Wars franchise (their logo is even in the shape of a TIE fighter, for those who didn’t immediately notice), Oathbreaker seems to be a concept album that stands on its own rather than relying on tie-ins to hold it up. While the band has not released lyrics, the song titles and overall atmosphere make it very clear that this is an album for the exiled. Does that mean that this isn’t about a character from the greater Star Wars universe? Not necessarily, but you don’t need to have a particular interest to appreciate Hoth’s finely prepared brand of melodic blackened death and the story they craft with it.

Our story begins with “The Unholy Conception,” which is currently the only song available for public consumption. Right from the start, I feel as if this album is a beautiful fusion of the strongest forms of metal that were on the rise in the mid ’90s. There’s the coldness of atmosphere and the harsh rasp that remind of Immortal before people decided to turn them into some sort of joke or metal meme, for one. Paired with the bleakness, however, is a display of fretwork that calls to mind the glory days of Opeth, when their progressive leanings were still tempered with ample amounts of blistering fretwork and meaty aggression. With these two classics as a blueprint of sorts, it’s easy to see how the framework for a story of grand proportions can be laid out.  Blazing guitars burn down the foundations only to lead way for melancholy and regret to come. Indeed, while the more violent sections of music would seem to be triumphant, the intensity is not cleansing catharsis, but instead sets the scene for somber tones and reflection. On songs like “Cryptic Nightmares,” Hoth builds up from a rather soft opening to all-out chaos without resorting to sheer excess in any category. The controlled approach suits Hoth well, as they clearly are skilled enough musicians to justify nuance and delicacy of atmosphere instead of merely going for the throat from the very start. My personal favorite on the album is “Acolyte of the Tenebrous Night,” which has the most righteous lead-in that leads to constant and harrowing blackness mixed with soaring and beautiful lead guitars. It’s hard to properly put to words what Hoth does, as this is more of a general “extreme” sound than it is rooted in any one niche, but in this case it’s a nice place for this band to be.

oathbreaker special edition

Oathbreaker will be officially released on the 20th of May, but CD pre-orders are already open through Hoth’s bandcamp. The CD comes in a four panel digipak case with a vinyl sticker, and fifty special edition copies will also come with a massive poster of the cover art. This is an absolute blast to listen to, so I seriously urge my readers to check these guys out. It’s not so raw or grim, but instead has a nostalgic feeling that will leave many of us remembering why we got into metal in the first place.