With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakened this week, I found this to be a most opportune time to review one of my favorite albums of last year: Hoth’s Oathbreaker. Hoth, AS WE ALL KNOW, is the ice planet from the Star Wars universe. In truth, I found this out serendipitously as I was scouring the web for information on the band over a year ago. Oops. But I digress…
Hoth is a two-piece melodic black metal band from Seattle, Washington. While I’d assume this makes touring difficult, as there are more than two things going on at once in their music, it also helps to streamline the sound and story of their art.
Oathbreaker is a concept album that is musically and lyrically interconnected. The vocals tell the story of a child who struggles with themes of darkness and light, and the music follows right along with the narrative. A great example of this is the first track, “The Unholy Conception,” in which the acoustic bridge is beautiful yet fiendish, and manages to convey the title of the song through music alone in such a way that I lumber to think of many other bands who’ve pulled this off so perfectly. As the album progresses past the halfway mark, the songs become appropriately darker and heavier. While this makes sense in relation to the protagonist’s adventure, it causes me to really itch for more of the blithesome melodies that pervade much of the first four tracks.
In fact, I’d like to dedicate some space here to briefly mention the fourth track, “Serpentine Whispers.” It’s the song that precedes Oathbreaker’s spiral into the black pit of despair, and it’s my favorite track on the album. Anyone who may be curious just how kick-ass it is to hear druids chanting over double bass should check it out. Purchasing a copy of the physical album will net an 8-bit version of “Serpentine Whispers” that is just fantastic. Go pick it up. And may the Hoth be with you.
Hoth’s Oathbreaker gets four royalty-free, clip art ice cubes out of five.