Hath – All that Was Promised Review

Hath are a cool band. They fill that Slugdge-shaped hole in my thirsty sponge body quite snugly without being a carbon copy, and you can clearly hear how much the group’s sound and skill grew between debut EP Hive and debut LP Of Rot and Ruin. The same measure of growth in songwriting and style applies between Of Rot and Ruin and their latest opus, All that Was Promised. Because of that continuous ambition and dedication to their craft, Hath no longer competes with their contemporaries in the blackened death metal arena, but rather alongside them as a respected standard. As such, it seems the band lives up to All that Was Promised.

Sonically, Hath strayed away from the strong Slugdge/Sulphur Aeon influence we heard on Of Rot and Ruin, thereby making direct comparisons more difficult than ever—and All that Was Promised is all the better for it. That Lovecraftian flavor of Molluscan slime left behind a traceable residue, but All that Was Promised is a harder, sharper, and more deadly release with a charred voice that largely belongs only to Hath. Moreover, the slightly trimmed runtime demonstrates that the NJ quartet honed their editing eye as well, just enough to train their latest into a muscular, yet athletic entity more than capable of waging wengeance for fifty minutes without fatigue.

Of all the improvements made to Hath’s musical methodology, consistency of quality is the most obvious. Those summits and plummets that made Of Rot and Ruin an exciting, but ultimately uneven album have here balanced each other out. Album highlights “Kenosis,” “Lithopaedic,” “Decollation,” and immolating closer “Name Them Yet Build No Monuments” rip and roar as the best blackened death destructors ought to, but the quality of those which missed special recognition remains quite high. Far from filler, “Iosis” impresses with clever trem-picked harmonies, a delightfully dissonant pack of jagged Atrae Bilis-esque riffs, and immense kit work. The title track risks losing me in a mellowed introduction, but pays off massive dividends in the second half with one of the best riffs on the album. “Death Complex” is a clinic in smart writing and thunderous riffcraft, sure to be someone else’s favorite cut even if it isn’t mine.

While the album’s consistent quality level bodes well for Hath, the real beauty of All that Was Promised lies in its simultaneously multifaceted and interconnected songwriting. Listen to “Decollation,” a remarkably intense number which morphs fluidly from movement to movement, breathing deeply for a brief spell before combusting into a fiery, Anaal Nathrakh-ian freakout. Follow that up with its next-door neighbor, “Death Complex,” a more structured and simple cut that nonetheless crushes your skull without bothering to learn your name. You might notice that, while both songs bleed their own blood, they are undeniably part of the same story. The same holds true with any two songs compared side by side. Before long, I recognized how widely Hath diversified their approach while meticulously interweaving a singular vision that stitches their latest material together. In turn, these songs share an unbreakable bond that makes the album whole without sacrificing the unique personalities of its constituent parts.

Acknowledging the admirable evolution Hath manifested between Of Rot and Ruin and All that Was Promised, there’re still a few nitpicks left to address. Firstly, opener “The Million Violations” marks what might be the only true weak point on All that Was Promised, and even then it’s primarily an issue of memorability. Servicing as an effective template for the Hath palette, “The Million Violations” gets too easily overshadowed by its album-mates, which in many ways serves as testament to the album’s overall quality more than it is a genuine complaint. Additionally, I’d like to hear a different snare tone on future recordings. This one isn’t terrible by any means, but I find it just a smidge irritating, especially during blast beats.

That leaves the score; All that Was Promised posed a challenge in this regard. On the one hand, it lacks the same blinding highlights of the previous work, trading that in for more consistent quality across the board. On the other, it’s undeniably better than Of Rot and Ruin as a whole, and represents another step forward for Hath in their journey towards uniqueness in the blackened death metal pantheon. If I go by the latter metric, then there’s only one option. So, after much deliberation, that’s exactly the route I’ve chosen. All that Was Promised surely won’t be the best we hear of Hath, but it’s a great record nonetheless, and they should be proud of it.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Willowtip Records
Websites: facebook.com/HathBand | hathnj.bandcamp.com
Releases Worldwide: March 4th, 2022

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