Hoth – Entering Bleak DimensionsFriday, 6th July 2018
The duo of Hoth is one that has been in constant evolution. From their very blatant Star Wars inspirations that led their debut album, to a more adventurous and dark sophomore effort, the band has continued this forward motion into Astral Necromancy. The band’s third album, it sits in the bleakest area that the band has explored yet. Where Oathbreaker flirted with heaviness the more it made its way to the finale, Astral is simply suffocating from the start with it. It also displays an even more mature outlook by the act, one in which some catchy melodies weave themselves around the darkness to create something quite memorable. We reached out once more to the band to get their thoughts on the new material as well as a look into their future.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you feel that with this album, you’ve been able to move past being labeled as a ‘Star Wars themed’ band?
Hoth: Well, we have no control over what people label us. But we do hope that people can look past the content of our first album and appreciate Astral Necromancy for what it is.
Oathbreaker wasn’t Star Wars. We never said it was, but we left it open to interpretation, and to some people that means it is Star Wars, and that is a fine and valid interpretation, just as valid as anyone else’s.
Dead Rhetoric: The writing process for Astral Necromancy went for three years. How did things go overall?
Hoth: We think it turned out pretty well! We definitely have developed a process that works well for collaborating on our music. It is slow and deliberate, but it gets results. Working on our own timeline means we can get things to sound exactly how we want them to. By trying to constantly improve over each album, sometimes the time that could’ve been spent writing is spent learning new techniques for recording and mixing, trying to get the guitar tone and drums sounding the best we can.
Dead Rhetoric: What advancements has Hoth made since Oathbreaker that become apparent when listening to Astral Necromancy?
Hoth: We’ve upgraded some of our equipment, the most obvious should be the quality of the guitar. We got a nice Paul Reed Smith that has excellent sustain and stays in tune for longer than 8 minutes. The drums also should stand out as something that sounds much better as well as the overall mixing and the final mastering.
Dead Rhetoric: In being rooted in suffocating darkness from the start (as opposed to Oathbreaker’s light to dark progression), did it make designing the album more challenging or did it provide more of a focus?
Hoth: That is an interesting question. The short answer is both. Oathbreaker was a journey so it was kind of like filling in the gaps from point A to point B. We’d write two songs and it would be obvious where they fit into the work as a whole. Astral Necromancy had a focus on this darkness from a thematic perspective, but arranging the tracks and making a coherent album definitely felt like more of a challenge.
Dead Rhetoric: The overall concept is less linear this time around. What types of topics do you feel are explored, from a general sense of things?
Hoth: We look at occult necromantic rituals… but in space. The source of these dark powers, and the terrible cost to obtain them, is beyond our wretched earth and lurk out in the void between the stars. The album tells of a thirst for power, the fear of death, and the transcendence into a being that exists beyond the mortal realm. Some songs are snapshots of certain moments.
Dead Rhetoric: When hearing Astral Necromancy, it feels like you have moved into more blackened waters than before. Did you look at more icy, Scandinavian melodic black metal as a backdrop this time?
Hoth: I wouldn’t say we specifically tried to make the album blacker on purpose. It just sort of happened. We wrote music that felt fitting. We certainly love a lot of bands that could be described as Scandinavian black metal, but there was no intentional process to emulate any of them.
Dead Rhetoric: With the bleak landscape of this album, what would you like to see Hoth explore next?
Hoth: We really dialed back all the of folk and acoustic elements in the album. We didn’t use a single acoustic guitar. Maybe in the future we could explore that more, or go in the direction of more ambient, electronic sounds. Hard to say, as we haven’t sat down really discussed where to go next, we are still in full Astral Necromancy mode at this point in time.
Dead Rhetoric: Dusty Peterson again did the artwork for the album. What do you like about how he portrays your material?
Hoth: Dusty is brilliant. We don’t give him much in the way of artistic direction other than a few demo tracks and the lyrics we have so far. He just goes to town and paints what comes to mind. We think giving an artist complete creative control yields the best results and the results speak for themselves: Astral Necromancy is one of Dusty’s best pieces yet. He really gave a face to this “Astral Necromancer” – a being that has sacrificed all semblance of humanity in exchange for terrible powers. The figure looks withered, and perhaps dead, like a space lich. We absolutely love it.
Dead Rhetoric: How important is the dynamic between the two of you in terms of writing and performing?
Hoth: It is a collaborative approach. We feel we have grown together and know how to communicate ideas back and forth much more readily. The roles each of us play balance out and are really well defined at this point so we can work very efficiently together. Having experience working in bigger groups of musicians, sometimes the ideas can be diluted, or it seems like there’s a correlation between the number of members and the number of compromises you must make on each song and album. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing as it adds more voices to the final product, but by being a duo it’s often easier and to create and build upon ideas.
Dead Rhetoric: As a band that doesn’t play live, how important is social media in spreading the word about Hoth?
Hoth: Social media is fairly important, but it isn’t platform specific. A lot of it is just word of mouth. Metalheads are passionate fans and they really go out of the way to spread the word for the bands they love. We hate using Facebook, but it does seem to be, for now, the best place to communicate to and interact with all our fans in one place. So if you’re a fan of Hoth and you’ve plugged us on your Facebook, Twitter, etc., a huge thank you to you, it helps us a lot!
Dead Rhetoric: Are you ever surprised at the global fanbase that you have been able to acquire?
Hoth: Absolutely. This project has grown far larger than we ever imagined. We are very humbled by our passionate fans from all around the world.
Dead Rhetoric: What plans do you have moving forward after the album’s release?
Hoth: Crack open a beer, take a moment to breath, and then start thinking about what we want to do next. There will always be more concepts and ideas that we want to turn into albums, and hopefully the time between Astral Necromancy and the next one will be less, but we will never sacrifice quality or say “good enough” to ship an album, so there’s no guarantees! We are looking at getting some more merchandise up but since we fund everything either by sales, or out-of-pocket, there’s a bit of a turn-time. We’ve had a lot of requests for vinyl and we are looking for the best option to do that, and we have started working on a really nice full-color shirt that displays Dusty’s art. Coming soon!