HATH – All That Was Promised (2022)REVIEW

A more democratically writ and personally divulged undertaking, this second full-length album from New Jersey-based progressive death metal quartet Hath accepts knowing thyself as an ongoing, fluidic process without entirely cinching shut their idealist envision. ‘All That Was Promised‘ internalizes blown expectations and existential wreckage to the point of bursting out, building upon their celebrated debut with thousand-layered subfloor shadows, girthing their atmospheric reach while cutting the path to the listener closer by way of more direct, if not flourish-rich, dialogues.

Hath formed in 2014 between members of progressive and I believe largely instrumental death metal band Ophidius, soon releasing a self-titled EP digitally in 2015. Their debut album ‘Of Rot and Ruin‘ (2019) was a fine album, indicative of the years of work put into its realization. With that said it definitely felt like a debut wherein the first toes hit the sand to feel out Hath‘s sensorial identity. I’d personally not enjoyed some of the rhythm guitar choices and the guitar sound itself — A somewhat digital HM-2 crunch leaving a sort of 2000’s popular European progressive death metal residue on pieces that’d otherwise fit into modern North American interpretations of those standards. (see: review) A personal preference, of course, but fans of later Edge of Sanity would’ve appreciated their touch upon a band that has more in common with Black Crown Initiate or Disillusion. I won’t dwell on comparisons of ‘then’ and ‘now’ in view of ‘All That Was Promised‘ but rather generally state that this second full-length appears to be a better realized Hath experience overall.

So, let’s us not lose sight of reality here in the sense that I’d not previously stated that these guys are talented and professional on an above-ground level presenting niche appropriate levels of detail with great enthusiasm. They’ve not at all pulled back the reigns on the double LP-sized experience of ‘All That Was Promised‘, a more complex and expressive journey through the existentially fraught self which refocuses upon atmosphere and thicker layering as well-chosen points of excess. The overdriven tear of Hath‘s sound is still powered by the bulge of HM-2 layers but not to the point of a typified sound, embracing the thundered crisp of that base tone and spreading it between at least four channels, a sort of illusory scoop that doesn’t lend a blunt edge to their sound. The rhythm guitar tone has plenty of power behind it as the main voice of most pieces here yet it hasn’t swallowed the greater voice available to the album out of turn. The best example of this working brilliantly for my own taste is “Death Complex”, where any ringing or hanging chords have this electrified, sharpened quality to their arching phrases.

Between the first (“Kenosis“) and second (“Lithopaedic“) singles/music videos from the album we’re introduced to the (generally speaking) maximal approach to layering which helps to differentiate this work from the two previous, wherein synth-aided melodic undertones and smartly placed atypical percussion choices make for songs musicians will be thrilled to crank up and dissect. Synth doubled solos, electronic accoutrement beneath choruses, these are largely buried by the hulk of Hath‘s sound but it is all there for folks who’ve hi-fi headphones or multi-speaker setups. The effect is huge, dramatic in its pulse yet arguably a bit of a wall of roaring intimidation right out of the gates. By the second half, or, arguably starting with “Decollation” even, we are getting the calmer viscera of the full listen where some semblance to modern melodic/progressive death metal such as Omnium Gatherum and In Vain begins to shine in their hands. “Casting of the Self” was essentially where it all came together best, the over the top sort of breakthrough piece I’d felt they were trying to write on ‘Of Rot and Ruin‘ without the hum-along quality of its apex figured out.

The final two pieces on the album are equally slow-built and even more pensive with the title track being my favorite song on the album and the third single/album closer “Name Them Yet Build No Monument” more or less completing that thought within a grand scaled progressive metal song. I’d greatly appreciated how this last piece goes just as hard as the start of the album, lending itself to a full listen which cycles well and lets the air back into the room with a big, blasting event. You could argue that the album is front-loaded with dense action and finds itself wandering instead of peaking at the start of its third act but that’d miss the necessary verve of the theme, though I’d agree the full listen does wallow within its midpoint.

As is the case with any above average progressive death metal album, especially one with plenty of aesthetic black metal influenced movements, they’re taking the chance that the listener will indulge in several spins to fully engage in the impossible layers within. I’d gotten there but it’d taken at least a few times through to begin to hear the deep-set tics and well hidden ideas driving the tunefulness of Hath‘s craft. The only constructive criticism I really have is, well, what if those synth nodules and swells took precedence over the weight of the rhythm guitars? Otherwise, yep, you’ve gotten the point that I’ve enjoyed this second record from the band beyond their previous works and I’m looking forward to seeing how it holds up. A high recommendation.

High recommendation. (79/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
TITLE:All That Was Promised
LABEL(S):Willowtip Records
RELEASE DATE:March 4th, 2022

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