Hoth - Oathbreaker 01Do you ever wonder what Dissection would have sounded like after Storm of the Light’s Bane if Jon Nodveidt made much better life choices and became obsessed with death metal and the original Star Wars trilogy? Yeah, neither did I, but Washington’s Hoth decided to answer that question in the form of their sophomore album Oathbreaker. The answer is: [spoiler alert] much better than Reinkaos.

Like Dissection on Storm, Hoth wisely refuse to pigeonhole themselves into one specific genre, and merge melodic death and melodic black metal into a cohesive whole, along with some fantastic acoustic segments that are both beautiful and unobtrusive. “A Blighted Hope” starts with nearly three minutes of stunning acoustic guitar, and the payoff when Hoth launches into black metal is an adrenaline rush that rivals hearing Dissection explode out of the acoustic intro to “Where Dead Angels Lie” for the first time. The dynamic mastering job on Oathbreaker lets the acoustic segments breathe, and the black/death parts hit with sufficient force. If I were to nitpick, the programmed drums, while expertly composed, have a blatantly fake ride cymbal that clashes with the rest of the great-sounding kit sometimes. Luckily, this minor quibble doesn’t damage the Oathbreaker in any meaningful way, but it is worth mentioning.

Hoth - Oathbreaker 02Although Dissection is the best point of reference for the general aesthetic here, Oathbreaker is not a pale imitation of Storm of the Light’s Bane, and Hoth is far from a tribute act. The duo who comprise Hoth, Eric Peters and David Dees, took what made Dissection great and added a heavier death metal influence to the proceedings, creating something that will sit very well with Dissection fans whilst still sounding fresh and vital. “Unholy Conception” has a chugging chorus with shrieks layered over growls and a fantastic lead that brings the best of the more melodic side of black metal to mind. “Acolyte of the Tenebrous Night” makes great use of a (programmed) string section, approximating what Dimmu Borgir would sound like if they added a healthy dose of death metal to their sound, listened to more Dissection, and weren’t shitty. The biggest testament to Hoth‘s songwriting prowess is “Unending Power:” it merges thrashy Swedish melo-death (think The Haunted), a chugging almost-breakdown, an interesting ambient segment, a series of riffs that combine latter-day Death with Dissection, a stunning lead that still gives me chills, and some vicious Americanized melo-death, and it all works perfectly due to each section being outstanding with a winding song structure that brings each disparate element together in a brilliant way.

While the idea of a Star Wars concept album will make some cringe, Hoth make Darth Vader’s story into a dramatic tragedy with a great musical and lyrical flow instead of a series of dumb references and in-jokes. Oathbreaker is a great record in concept and execution, and it deserves a place in your metal rotation.

Tracks to Check: “The Unholy Conception,” “A Blighted Hope,” “Unending Power”

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  • OMG. That logo. Must listen.

    • Guest

      It’s Vader’s Tie Fighter.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Still, I think they should have gone with a logo in the shape of a metal bikini-top.

      I was an impressionable young lad when Episode IV first came out. When I saw Princess Leia reclining there on the bench after Luke opened her prison cell, by Jove did I not feel a stirring in my loins, what ho! The Singing Master of my soul! She…I’d better stop now before I break off into song.

    • Feytalist

      I am almost willing to buy this album based only on the brilliance of that logo.

      It helps that the music itself is really interesting also.

      • This by the way is the SECOND Star Wars themed record we’ve reviewed.

        • bloodvictor

          Which was the other?

  • Grymm

    This is the Dissection clone I’ve been looking for.


    • Our Fortress Is Burning

      Well done sir.

  • brutal_sushi

    YES! Heard these guys a few months back. So sick.

  • Andy_0

    The band doesn’t admit it’s about Vader, which makes me think they’re either embarrassed or that they think it’s a deep, complex theme that people wouldn’t understand.

    That combined with the folky Ensiferum melodies & less than stellar programmed drums put me squarely into the cringe camp.

    • No, I don’t think so. My guess is Hoth can’t divulge the concept due to licensing issues.

  • hubcapiv

    “Do you ever wonder what Dissection would have sounded like after Storm of the Light’s Bane if Jon Nodveidt made much better life choices and became obsessed with death metal and the original Star Wars trilogy?”
    Honestly everything after that line was just gravy. Brilliant.

  • hophead84

    I’ve listened to this a few times and I’m not getting the Dissection comparison, especially not Somberlain or Storm of the Light’s Bane era . If there’s anything it’s mostly Reinkaos but still I wouldn’t even mention Dissection in the list of bands this reminds me of. *shrug* good album. Thanks for the review

  • Wait, this wasn’t reviewed here? I clearly remember reading a review of Hoth on AMG, must be the age :(

  • Refined-Iron Cranium

    There was some hype about this last year and I’m glad I checked these guys’ Bandcamp page out. Definitely one of the better releases of the year – it’s nothing groundbreaking but feels just like the home-cooked formula Papa Nodtveidt used to make. And that’s some tasty, frostbitten goodness for sure.

  • Hróðvitnir

    The metal is strong with this one.

  • Ben Mccullough

    So happy I bought this.

  • Kryopsis

    I don’t know why I’m so uncomfortable admitting that I really like this. Nice find, DiM!

  • JeremyZero

    This record is awesome. If you can’t get behind Star Wars themed death metal, well, I just don’t think we can be friends.

  • Antonio Barrote

    wow… thank you for letting me know this band… m/

  • Our Fortress Is Burning

    Blackened Melodic Sci-Fi Death Metal.

    It’s not bad. I hear a bit of Vektor in there, which I like.

  • Sordid Bass

    This is awesome.

  • Myra Esoteric

    Well, there’s a metal band called Vader, so this can’t be too surprising. Usually you think of metal as this tough-guy music but the fact that power metal and now this stuff exists just makes me lol.

  • Diego Alessandro Vergara

    for me the Stars Wars reference is unusual and it doesn’t make me feel quite alright but the music its completely worthy.
    Thank you!

  • heiligerst

    as Dissection? Do you have never listened Thulcandra, from Germany? Much better than Hoth. That was a just a nice try. Star Wars theme is not for being played on Black Metal, maybe by a power metal band, like Stratovarious. By the way, no-one can compares Reinkaos with any other album: its songs and lyrics are authentic Satanic-Anticosmic Rituals. Just bands like Watain and Ofermod, do that.