Hath – Venturing to Worlds WithinFriday, 17th May 2019
Hath first hit the scene with their Hive EP back in 2015, which started to make a few waves due to the mix of progressive, Opeth-ian structures and unbridled black/death brutality. It may have taken four years for the full-length follow-up, but one listen to Of Rot and Ruin and most fans of extreme metal are bound to be hooked. There’s nods to more current ‘buzz-worthy’ bands on this side of the Atlantic as well as some European melodicism, but most importantly, they put it all together into something that feels refreshing. It may be blackened death metal, but it’s far from your ordinary take on the genre. Here to fill in the rest of the gaps between 2015 and now, as well as plenty of details about Of Rot and Ruin, is guitarist/vocalist Frank Albanese.
Dead Rhetoric: It was 4 years in between your EP and Of Rot and Ruin. Was there any reason for that extent of time?
Frank Albanese: No reason in particular, no. When we started writing, we weren’t with a label or anything like that, and we have other projects that we are involved in, so naturally we just took our time with it all. The writing was probably 90% done at this point in 2017, to be honest, but I think taking our time gave us a few ideas that really made these songs better in the end.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel that you’ve improved upon from the Hive EP?
Albanese: Of Rot And Ruin is more mature and more varied, but I think it’s heavier all-around. We got to try new things on the album that we didn’t fit on the EP, like the pseudo-singing parts, which was nice.
Dead Rhetoric: Have you been surprised at the reception to Of Rot and Ruin?
Albanese: We are surprised, yes, but we’re very thankful for how the album has been received. When you spend so much time with the material like we have, it’s very easy to become numb to it all. What people are now hearing for the first time, we’ve already picked apart for the last two to four years.
Dead Rhetoric: What do you feel is the main thing you are trying to do, musically, with Hath?
Albanese: I don’t want to say that we have a mission statement or anything, but if I had to, I’d say our goal is to just make memorable and accessible heavy music. Music is a driving force in our lives, and it would be great to have our music be the same for others.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel there’s a track or two on Of Rot and Ruin that would give people a good impression of your sound?
Albanese: My answer would have included “Currents” but after seeing a lot of the reviews we’ve gotten, it’s probably “Usurpation” and “Worlds Within.” They pretty much cover the whole spectrum of everything we do on the album.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s something that you feel helps Hath to stand out from other bands?
Albanese: That’s a tough question. I feel like we’re too close to the music to give a thorough answer on that. I like to think that we don’t try to sound like anyone else, or try to do something specific at all really. We just try to write heavy, dark, memorable music. If it doesn’t get us hype when we hear it, then it’s not good enough.
Dead Rhetoric: There’s some Dark Souls influence to the band. What’s the connection between this game and heavy metal?
Albanese: I feel like because there are a few songs on the album with Dark Souls-inspired lyrics, that people are labeling us a “Dark Souls band.” I wouldn’t say that’s the case, it was just something that was present in my mind when finishing the lyrics, though we are all huge fans of the series. Metal and video games have a huge overlap in fandoms, and I think the Dark Souls games (Demon’s Souls and Bloodborne, too) have a lot of dark themes and elements that are present in metal music. It’s only natural that they have that crossover appeal. A lot of metal fans like fire, dragons, swords, death, undead, demons, eldritch horrors, etc in their entertainment.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that things like Bandcamp helped get your name out initially?
Albanese: Absolutely. If I’m remembering correctly, Willowtip came across us through Bandcamp. I mean, it’s a free platform to post your music and charge what you want, directly from artist to fan if you’re independent. After the decline of Myspace and such, it’s become a huge platform for bands to use, and if a band doesn’t have one then I have no idea what they’re doing. There’s no reason NOT to use it. We put our Hive EP on there for the low price of pay-what-you-want and I think that helped us out the most. People could download it and show their friends without basically gambling their money away, unsure if they’ll like it or not.
Dead Rhetoric: A number of Hath’s members play in other bands. What advantages come from playing in more than one band?
Albanese: It sounds tough or time consuming to be in multiple bands, but I think it helps in the long run. You have these periods of time where you focus more on one project, then when you shift your focus to another, you’re full of new ideas that you wouldn’t have had before. It’s interesting how you evolve as musicians when you put time into projects that are pretty different from one another. It’s also easier to gain a fanbase for a new band when you already have fans from another. They’ve been really supportive.
Dead Rhetoric: What types of evolution have you observed in extreme music over the last 10 years?
Albanese: As always, it’s way more varied than it used to be. That’s to be expected, though. New bands come out and try a different sound, and over time the new thing becomes commonplace, so bands find new ways to push the boundaries. I feel like a lot more bands have clean singing now that wouldn’t have done it ten years ago, and in general extreme music seems a lot more technical on average. I see extremes in every direction, though. With it being so easy to create and find music thanks to the internet, niche genres are growing more than ever. I will say the one thing that stands out to me in particular is the seemingly exponential rise in one-man projects.
Dead Rhetoric: Being that the band is based in New Jersey, what do you see as some of the strengths of the northeast metal scene?
Albanese: NYC and Philadelphia are two amazing places for heavy music, that’s just a fact, and both are in driving distance. Depending on what you’re looking for, we’re not too far from Boston or Baltimore either. Our area is – the last time I checked – the most densely populated in the nation, so there’s probably more metal fans per capita (Disclaimer: I’m not a statistician) than anywhere else in the country. Regardless, we’ve basically got four big areas for music within driving distance, but just far enough that they create their own scenes and flavors of metal. It’s like friendly competition to me. We all want to have the best bands.
Dead Rhetoric: What’s coming up for the rest of the year for Hath?
Albanese: We’re in talks regarding some shows, but nothing I can say right now. People will have to follow our social media accounts to find out when it all gets announced. Other than that, we’ve already started writing songs for the next album, and we’re planning on doing a lot more shows in 2020.