Hoth – May the Metal Be With YouMonday, 5th May 2014
Dead Rhetoric: Oathbreaker is a concept album, is there anything you can share about the concept without giving too much away?
Hoth: Some people just based on the description of the album, the track titles, and the album name have already made some pretty good guesses, so we really don’t want to give away too much more. I think people should be able to figure it out, especially once they see the lyrics to the album. Lyrics will be online on our bandcamp as soon as the album releases on May 20th.
A big thing for us when writing this album was to not use any names or places present in the Star Wars galaxy; this was because we feel that the story of Oathbreaker is a timeless one. The themes and motifs present in our music exist beyond Star Wars, so we wanted someone who was unfamiliar with the story of Star Wars to be able to approach Oathbreaker and still take something away from it.
Dead Rhetoric: Listening to Infinite Darkness and then Oathbreaker back to back, it’s clear Hoth has become a much tighter and mature unit. How do you feel things have changed for the band since Infinite Darkness?
Hoth: Our experiences with Infinite Darkness really helped us grow as musicians and songwriters. We grew to understand the importance of having direction and focus. We made Infinite Darkness pretty quickly; we really just put together a bunch of tracks that had to do with something brutal and grim in the Star Wars universe. It lacked vision and cohesiveness. So when it came to creating Oathbreaker we looked back at all of the things we would have done differently and all of the things we wanted to do better. We decided we need to be consistent; we needed to find ‘our’ sound a bit more. In Infinite Darkness, we were all over the place. For Oathbreaker, we conceived of a story. We wanted to tell that story with our music and we wanted to make it as perfect as we possibly could. We promised to ourselves to never cut any corners, which caused numerous delays in the writing/recording process.
Dead Rhetoric: When crafting a conceptual album like Oathbreaker, how did the writing process differ from that of Infinite Darkness, which basically used a number of different Star Wars themes as fodder for different songs?
Hoth: Oathbreaker’s writing process was completely different from Infinite Darkness. Oathbreaker (thought untitled at the time) was conceived from the beginning as a concept album, though initially we sought to just make a 4 song EP that would be about 25 minutes long. We came up with a story we wanted to tell. Basically, we wanted it to get darker and darker as it went on. With that in mind we sketched out four potential song titles, these served as sort of our anchor points for the story. Eventually, through the writing process these songs got fleshed out and expanded out into multiple tracks. A concept album is truly a project that comes to life as you work on creating it.
Dead Rhetoric: Where there any unexpected challenges along the way in attempting to design a conceptual album?
Hoth: Oh yes, there are a handful. Sometimes we would come up with a riff, or even a good couple minutes of a song and it just wouldn’t fit into the narrative. It would be like “hey, that is a really cool riff, but it doesn’t fit this part of the story” and it would have to be modified or thrown out. Sometimes the opposite would happen where there was a part of our story that we knew we wanted to explore but we had difficulty coming up with a way to musically express it. Overall, a concept album is a fantastic driving force. It really fueled us along and gave us a clear goal, but when it comes to writing the songs you also always have to bear in mind the scope of your story.
Dead Rhetoric: You can sense some hope and uplifting feelings with earlier tracks like “A Blighted Hope” but as you move through the album, it grows darker and darker until you reach the aptly titled “Despair”. How did you approach these themes in the material?
Hoth: Like we said before, this album was supposed to get darker and bleaker as you listened to it. The album was intended to take the listener on a journey. At the beginning you should be able to feel the possibility of hope, but taste the bitter taint of corruption, and at the end you should be crushed by the heavy weight of regret and damnation.
These themes are reflected clearly in the lyrics, but the music is what really brings it all together. At the beginning of the album, we had acoustic passages and more heroic sounding riffs. The black metal influences were more foreshadowing of the evil to come rather than the central focus. The end of the album is supposed to sound more savage, culminating with “Despair.” “Despair” was the song that took us the longest to write. We wanted it to feel crushing; we wanted the listener to feel like they could not bear the weight of it. When you listen to “Despair” you are supposed to feel as hopeless and lost as our central character. Initially, feeling inspired by bands such as Abyssal, it was even more dissonant, echoey, and doomy. We had to tone that back a bit to make it fit our sound, and I think in the end we were really successful at capturing the emotion we set out to portray.
Dead Rhetoric: Do you have any Star Wars themed ideas brewing for future releases? Would you gear yourselves more towards another concept album?
Hoth: We have a lot of ideas sort of sitting on the back-burner right now. There are a ton of cool concepts found in the Star Wars galaxy, for example there are droids, sentient robots that are essentially slaves. Apparently nobody has a problem with using them, destroying them, or even torturing them. Also, Star Wars allows us to examine the ethics of cloning and individuality. The possibilities are endless, but we do not have anything concrete right now. We are still really excited about Oathbreaker and it is hard to think about anything else right now.
As for another concept album…absolutely. Making a concept album was great fun. It is a lot of work but it is definitely worth it. A concept album gives the writing process a clear purpose with every song and it really helps drive creativity because you know the story you want to tell.
Dead Rhetoric: As there are only two of you in the band, do you do live shows?
Hoth: Right not we are not playing live shows. That is not to say we wouldn’t ever, but right now we are more focused on creating our music and telling the story we want to tell with our music. Maybe someday.
Dead Rhetoric: Anything on tap for Hoth once Oathbreaker is released?
Hoth: Probably a fine Belgian Trippel or a really heavy stout.
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