Hath – All That Was Promised Review

[Cover art by Adam Burke]

BIG

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.

Release date: March 4, 2022. Label: Willowtip Records.
Lead single “Kenosis” is an exemplary dose of musical hugeness. It opens with a whirling, descending riff that switches between ears and is backed by slow cymbal hits before a mighty roar kicks off the true speed. The guitars proceed to constantly morph and shift around each other to ensure that the song is perpetually driving without being overwhelming. The vocals remain more mid-paced and delivered with a clarity that makes it so repeated listens will permit you to pretty easily start singing along. The song feels simultaneously claustrophobic and open making it so you want to windmill your head but do a slow fist pump at the same time. Then there’s the chorus. That thing is an absolute monster that you’ll want to scream off the top of a mountain as a way of challenging Zeus to a fight. Metal likes to screw around with song structures and make things unpredictable, but “Kenosis” is a prime example of a more traditional verse-chorus approach still being capable of absolutely slaying. Oh yea, there’s a killer guitar lead and a triumphant little clean-sung passage to boot. Everything is so carefully layered to make every part lift the other closer to the sky. There’s no way the band members don’t feel like they have the strength of gods playing a song like this from the stage.

“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.

Posted by Spencer Hotz

Admirer of the weird, the bizarre and the heavy, but so are you. Why else would you be here?

  1. I agree wholeheartedly with this review. This music is so dense and crushing yet at the same time permeable and sinuous. So many surprises. A real triumph and one of the top albums so far of the year. And yes if you like Slugdge you will dig these guys.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.