There is no shortage of styles of music or bands that want to make their songs feel and sound big. Common approaches to doing so include adding orchestral elements, writing lengthy tracks or putting meticulous detail into soundscapes that help build atmosphere. Hath’s sophomore album All That Was Promised manages to be massive while somehow bypassing all of those tropes. Instead, they rely on riffs, top-notch songwriting and a crushing delivery to make all nine of these tracks feel like they could stand alone as a towering Kaiju over their cowering, puny human peers.
“Kenosis” is the strongest track on the album, which can be a bit of a bummer as the lead single, but that’s more a comment on how damn good that song is rather than an indictment on the rest.
Each instrument does its part to be a powerhouse. The drumming throughout this album flails, stutters, rolls, crashes and otherwise batters your ears in a way that imbues you with relentless energy rather than overwhelming you despite the speed. The bass is thicker than a pile of dead buffalo and deftly switches between backing the guitars or rolling with the rhythms of the drums. The two guitars are constantly doing completely different things but rather than it feeling chaotic it feels like the uniting of disparate armies against a diabolical foe like seeing man, dwarf and elf unite in the battle of Helm’s Deep. The vocals are perfectly placed, paced and varied to match the songs and punctuate key shifts in the flow.
I previously mentioned the ability of the songs to feel claustrophobic and open at the same time. That exceptional use of space is on display throughout the album. After a passage of blazing chaos, Hath knows to let things drop into grooves and give the listener something to grab onto. Many passages are given more room to breathe which makes the switch back to chaos all the more impactful. The opening to “Lithopaedic” is a good example. It starts with a very quiet intro that leads into steady but fiery drums with some slow chugging guitar and bass accompanied by a whirling second guitar that’s layered very faintly in the back. When the extra-low vocals kick in with “deep in the ruuuuuins,” all of the rhythms lock-in and a mid-tempo grinding takes the soaring nature of “Kenosis” before it and drives it through the crust of the Earth.
I could write a paragraph or two on each individual song, but that level of gushing is overkill and will ruin the fun of hitting play and discovering how each one will find its own unique way to pump you up. The downside to having nine tracks in a row that all manage to feel this big is that a nearly 52-minute runtime has the potential to feel draining for some listeners. For others, this will simply be a time when you can’t have too much of a good thing.
This approach to dense, powerful, triumphant, driving, varied and all-around massive songs is reminiscent of Willowtip label mates Slugdge. If you’re one of the many Mollusca converted, All That Was Promised absolutely needs to be in your purchasing queue. And if you aren’t, just listen to this anyway because each spin will give you the added muscle mass of a week in the gym and that’s just good time-saving smarts right there.