Hath – Of Rot and Ruin (Willowtip Records)Tuesday, 16th April 2019
While it’s enjoyable to hear veteran bands up the ante with a new release at every corner, there’s a different type of thrill to hear a newer band come through and blow away your expectations on their first full-length. Such cases are pretty rare to come by, but New Jersey’s Hath bring an addictive and explosive feeling to their debut Of Rot and Ruin. The type of release that you can tell the band is onto something big.
With four years passing between the band’s Hive EP and this Willowtip debut, some of the impact of said release had dissipated. Hive had some Opeth-ian moments melded into a solid death/black backbone and was impressive at the time, but Of Rot and Ruin simply dominates it in every form. Sure, there’s some Opeth influence in there for sure (see “Worlds Within”), but it seems the band has been paying more attention to other rising names in the genre such as Slugdge and Rivers of Nihil in the time that has passed. While there’s no direct tie to connect those bands, the way that Hath incorporates more progressive moments into their otherwise primal and blasting death/black formula gives it the same credence. Take a song like “Currents,” with an acoustic opening that then escalates into blastbeats and blackened riffs, which then slides into some more deathly grooves and later some melodic leadwork. When the song comes to a ‘clean-ish’ vocal segment in its second half, it feels deserved and a fitting climax. Some genuine emotions seem to rear their heads as well, with songs like “Accursed” having a more melancholic approach despite some jackhammering drumwork and crushing black/death riffing. It’s a poignant mixture of annihilating tempos with a deeper melodic component. What’s perhaps most impressive is that with the songs mostly in the 6-8 minute range, it doesn’t feel like they meander from their goal, instead using the time frames to add a richness to each song that will not only catch your ear, but demand repeated listens as it draws you in.
It’s a treat to come across such an impressive and complete debut as Of Rot and Ruin. Hath take their influences in stride, and utilize them to craft something that is more unique than one might initially expect. The combination of assaulting death/black brutality laced with more progressive and mournful sentiments that is displayed is powerful, leaving a lasting impression that foretells an even more potent impact in the near future.