Words by Sean Mclennan
New Jersey blackened death metal outfit Hath have remained quite an underground presence since their formation back in 2014. Having self released their debut EP Hive, the group is now signed to the well known Willowtip Records and gearing up to release their first full length record titled Of Rot and Ruin on April 12th. They brought a lot to the table with their debut EP Hive (which I fully recommend checking out), melding prog-metal components with blackened riffs and acoustic elements with heaps of heaviness, ultimately achieving a massive sound on their debut. The tasteful use of technical riffing and ruthless death metal outbursts add to the dynamics that this band employs. What is rather unique to their sound is their ability to add eerie open spaces between the chugging tendencies of (dare I say it) deathcore, without ever crossing into hacky territory. Hath takes the blackened death metal style and plays it with vigor and robust production, thoroughly focusing on the fusion of heavy and acoustic elements (think Opeth meets Whitechapel and Behemoth). That same atmosphere carries over into their latest record Of Rot and Ruin and then some.
The thundering introduction of opening track “Usurpation” picks things up where Hive left off. The opening blast is delivered with purpose and high energy, starting the journey of this album off on a blistering note. Going into this album there is already a sense of what Hath is capable of, but within the first minute of this song a newfound vitality is present and it is rousing. Proficiency bleeds through the rapid pace of the percussion, the variety of riffage and the all around enthusiasm of extreme elements.
Strengthening that use of the word variety comes the Latin American inspired acoustic section that erupts into a tech-death shock wave in “Currents,” a track that sees the band fusing dark melodies with sheer heaviness throughout its entirety. With this album it seems as if Hath understood the dynamics of their sound a little better and wrote with clearer intentions. This gave them the opportunity to produce thicker glooming textures in their heavy parts and toy with different ways to produce and layer vocals. Although the primary infernal growl reigns supreme across Of Rot and Ruin, there’s a lot more vocal experimentation and risks taken on this album then their EP prior. Both vocalists, Frank Albanese (also guitar) and Greg Nottis (also bass), utilize a much more broad vocal spectrum that introduces some subtle vocal nuances to create a bit more melody for specific choruses.
Vocal whisperings and clean droning strings create contrast next to the whirlwind blasts that inhabit “Rituals.” Twisting and turning through powerful soundscapes and plenty of chaos, this song clocks in at 8 minutes and 45 seconds (the longest on the record). On the contrary, Hath present a straightforward malicious attack of unholy death metal on “To Atone.”
Listening to the tracks “Withered” and “Worlds Within” side by side, you can really pick up on the identity that Hath have molded for themselves. An identity that may involve a healthy Opeth influence, sure, but stretches into spaces far beyond that. The former track shows the way these guys can really create and build up an absorbing melody into a neckbreak groove. While “Worlds Within” presents a cohesive blend of the best of everything this band is capable of. An abundance of acoustic guitars shine through on the second half of this record, with there even being an entire acoustic track, “Kindling.”
Transitioning into “Accursed,” a song that brings on a heavy, yet somber atmosphere with the use of acoustic and clean guitars reinforcing that energy. However, Hath balances that out by turning this sorrowful sounding tune into a crushing force of blasts, breakdowns and pinch harmonics.
Of Rot and Ruin is a finely tuned piece of extreme music that explodes with technicality and breathes with beautiful acoustic passages. The level of musicianship heard throughout this record will most definitely resonate with all who listen. This is an album that will undoubtedly make waves in the metal community, catching a lot of people by surprise and making a lot of people’s year end favorites list. The combinations and variety of heavy elements that these guys are able to play so flawlessly is addictive and leaves you wanting more. Hath have gone above and beyond on this record and created a captivating piece of music that demands your attention.
Purchase Of Rot and Ruin here