Hoth – Oathbreaker

Hoth - Oathbreaker

Hoth – Oathbreaker

A metal concept album about the notorious Star Wars villain Darth Vader may seem like a bit of a stretch, but Washington’s Hoth manage to illicit enough intrigue on their independently released Oathbreaker.  The band consists of two shadowy members Eric and David who play a pretty devastating form of melodic black/death metal coupled with a solid dose of harmony.  Oathbreaker marks the band’s second full length album.

For those who don’t know, Hoth is an ice covered planet from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.  It is a very apt band name as this music is cold and relentless.  There is a nice flow to the album as songs have short acoustic passages and then you are hit with the heavy, business end of things.  “A Blighted Hope” combines both of these opposites in a perfect dichotomy.  If you break down the track time, it is nearly identical.

For band comparisons, Dissection’s name has been thrown around a lot.  While it is easy to agree that that influence is present throughout Oathbreaker, there are a couple of other noticeable ones.  Listening to “Cryptic Nightmares” the first band that sprang to mind is Norway’s Vreid who play a similar kind of melodic black metal.

Following that up is in my opinion is the album’s centerpiece, “Serpentine Whispers”.  This one had me take a step back and made me think that I was hearing an unreleased Windir track.  Windir became Vreid after the untimely death by hypothermia of founding member and singer Valfar.  This song has all of the elements from the looping, hypnotic guitars and even the chanted vocal harmonies.  This is pure gold right here.

A slight drop in pacing occurs on “Acolyte of Tenebrous Night”, but no need to fear as “Unending Power” will deliver a breakdown that will force you to consider that someone is playing Jedi mind tricks with your head.  Let me just stress this once again—this album is heavier than Jabba the Hutt after dining at the Cantina on Mos Eisley.  Ok, so maybe it is time to squelch the Star Wars references.  To get back on track, “Despair” is the album closer and it is a crushing builder of a song; complete with tight tremolo riffage and heavy as hell drum work.

Oathbreaker turned out to be quite a surprise.  This album was most certainly in my player for some time.  What Hoth have managed to accomplish on this output is pretty staggering.  If you are a metalhead, a fan of Star Wars or both then you need to check this out now or end up as the Rancor’s next meal.