Hath – All That Was Promised
Progressive blackened death metal from New Jersey, US
Releasing March 2 via Willowtip Records
Written by Kep
I’m a Hath fan. I’ve been a Hath fan since the day Of Rot and Ruin came out back in 2019. Their progressive, narrative take on blackened death spoke to me, and I was 100% sold in less than ten minutes. See, I’ve got proof and everything:
So of course when All That Was Promised was announced back in December I was eager to get my hands on the promo. I’ve been determined to write about this album for months. But now that the time is here to actually do that I’m finding it hard to find the correct words. I can tell you one thing for sure, though.
This album is fucking magnificent.
Look, I don’t think there’s anybody who wasn’t impressed by Of Rot and Ruin. There are few bands who can release an epic 54-minute debut record and keep listeners hanging on every note, but then again there are few who tell a story the way that Hath did in songs like “Currents” and “Rituals” and “Accursed”, weaving tapestries of vividly lyrical imagery and exhilarating musicianship. Their sound was a hulking Soulsborne beast, massive and threatening and glorious in its own twisted way, with a plethora of nuance and finesse to back up the brutal appearance.
Well, now the beast has leveled up and it’s bigger and more daunting than ever. Everything that made Hath great in 2019—all those things that made them instant breakout stars in the metal scene—is back and noticeably better in All That Was Promised. Maybe it’s because the band wrote as a four-piece for the first time here, as guitarist Peter Brown joined before recording Of Rot but after the writing process was finished. Or maybe it’s because drummer AJ Viana’s talent for engineering and mixing continues to be among the finest I’ve heard (don’t forget, he recorded and mixed last year’s impressive Cognitive album, which he also drummed on). Maybe it’s because frontman Frank Albanese’s lyrics and thunderous vocals feel darker, more weighty, more grotesquely fantastical here. Or maybe it’s all that and more.
The hallmarks of the band’s writing all play together to help create songs as cohesive and expansively narrative as metal gets. Their blackened wall of sound is so towering that you’d swear it had a physical manifestation, sawtoothed tremolo-picking and thick riffs along with bassist Greg Nottis’s substantial presence filling nearly every crevice of the speakers while Albanese’s roars and visceral drumwork from Viana expand the aural profile even further. This is enormous, hefty music, but it’s so goddamn intelligent. Hath refuse to let their songs get static or grow stale; instead, every track is developing constantly from the first second to the last.
Take centerpiece “Decollation”, which takes us on a sonic journey from an immense opening that’s spearheaded by astoundingly intense blast beats and subtle melodicism in the bass, through a verse built on the same structure but now led by a menacing riff in the guitars, to a larger-than-life chorus featuring layered cleans from Nottis that’s followed by a bridge of sidewinding dual guitars, to a new verse that combines winding guitar lick with the first verse’s framework. Then when the chorus returns it’s delivered without cleans and with a deeper, chestier sound from Albanese, and it’s followed by a chugging transition that leads to one of the band’s signature prog passages: a restful, poignant minute-and-a-half of meditation, the kind that feels like a reflection on what is past and a steeling of oneself for what comes next. The song concludes with a wilder, more animalistic version of the massive opening.
Here’s the thing about All That Was Promised: I could dive that deep and even further into every one of the nine tracks because there’s so much substance. There are no throwaways here, no filler, nothing that feels less than a simultaneous baring of the band’s teeth and soul. It’s the work of an elite outfit that’s already at the top of their game on just their sophomore album. There are strikingly unique riffs on every song (the lurching opening of “Lithopaedic” and the angular main riff of the title track are great examples), meaningful atmospheric effects and thoughtful quiet moments perfectly placed, and a host of little touches including spoken word and those layered clean vocals. The way they use understated movement from the bass or a guitar to make wall-of-sound passages feel like they’re going somewhere, the heart- and flesh-rending dual solos in tracks like “Iosis” and “Death Complex”, soulful acoustic as in the opening of “Casting of the Self”, the sweeping storytelling of songs like “Lithopaedic” and standout closer “Name Them Yet Build No Monument”; it all adds up to a listening experience that demands your ears on first listen and then rewards them even more with each subsequent spin. I’ve been catching new subtle riff changes, rhythmic shifts, and nifty transitions every time I dive back in for another round.
Well shit, I guess I did find some words after all.
THE BOTTOM LINE
A cohesive, powerful package of stellar tracks and impressive songwriting vision, All That Was Promised is Hath cementing themselves firmly at the forefront of modern metal. It’s impeccably produced, superbly written, impressively performed, and yes, it’s heavy as all hell. It surpasses Of Rot and Ruin in every way and stands as easily the best thing I’ve heard this year so far. I can’t recommend it highly enough.