I discovered the Seattle duo Hoth (David Dees and Eric Peters) through their second album, Oathbreaker, released in 2014. After impetuously listening to just the first track and the last one, I wrote: “Multifaceted, meticulously executed, epic in its ambitions and its achievements, this is really impressive.” I became even more impressed after hearing the whole album, and ultimately chose one track (“Serpentine Whispers”) for our list of 2014’s Most Infectious Extreme Metal Songs.
Four years later, Hoth are bringing us a new album named Astral Necromancy, which will be released on June 15. They describe it as follows:
“This is a concept album – but one of a somewhat different sort. Oathbreaker was a concept album that lead the listener down a darker and darker path; it was a linear journey. On the other hand, Astral Necromancy already exists in the crushing, unforgiving darkness. There are no paths. There is no light and no hope — just an exploration of cosmic mysteries and black magic – a journey in infinite directions.
“It is a concept album in the sense that there is a common thread through each of the songs that bind them together as each individually explores an aspect of this darkness. The eleven tracks on the album explore themes ranging from corruption of the self to what lies at the end of all time; from journeys through frostbitten wastelands to the acquisition of forbidden knowledge, and more.
“We hesitate to be any more specific than that because the meaning of the album is best expressed through listening to it. The experience itself brings its own meaning to each listener”.
Hoth have also explained that the new album reflects improvements over Oathbreaker in the quality of both the compositions and the production (“we acquired new software, new instruments, and learned new techniques”). The opening track from the album (“Vengeance”, reviewed here) provided powerful evidence of that, and today we provide more through our premiere of “The Gathering of Accursed Artifacts“.
If the album’s concept represents a journey in infinite directions, encompassing tales of forbidden knowledge and spiritual transcendence within a realm of pervasive darkness, “The Gathering…” is in itself a multi-directional experience, one that ranges across a variety of extreme metal genres to suit the band’s ambitious purposes.
The song bursts with arcane energy, but not before first ushering in the listener with a dreamlike, ringing guitar harmony joined with the low bubble and thrum of the bass. That introduction creates a hypnotizing effect (and Hoth return to it again later), but they explode the spell with a surge of rhythmic battering, frenetic guitar buzzing riff, and biting, venomous howls, and then introduce a hooky, jabbing riff and a serpentine solo. A heavy, brooding riff enters the frame; the drums begin to blast; and a trilling melody soars skyward as the surge continues.
Pulsating chords then provide the undercurrent for a fire-breathing solo, and the strengthening atmosphere of paralyzing grandeur reaches its zenith… but with a musical reminder that magic and mystery still hover about this journey, which hasn’t yet reached its end.
More wonders await within this ingeniously conceived, beautifully executed, and hard-to-describe album, which features memorable cover art created by Dusty Peterson. It’s available for pre-order now.
Pre-order at Bandcamp: