Album Title: All That Was Promised
Label: Willowtip Records
Date of Release: 4 March 2022
I’d been reading quite a bit of hype around a band called Hath of late, so I felt that I ought to check them out. Unfortunately, my extended hiatus in 2019 coincided with the release of Hath’s debut record, ‘Of Rot And Ruin’, so I never got to check it out. As such, I come to ‘All That Was Promised’, the sophomore release, without any real expectations. All I knew prior to listening, was that the band hailed from New Jersey, and they were described as ‘blackened death metal’. But holy hell, I wasn’t expecting this – ‘All That Was Promised’ is a beast. A bona fide beast of monstrous proportions that I am quickly taking to my heart.
Blackened death metal this certainly is, but it is laced with plenty of other influences to create an intoxicating listening experience. ‘All That Was Promised’ is, first and foremost, properly heavy and extremely savage when it needs to be. However, the quartet, comprised of vocalist and guitarist Frank Albanese, guitarist Peter Brown, bassist and vocalist Greg Nottis, and drummer AJ Viana, are not afraid to add in some progressive tendencies, some impressive technical chops, a bit of gnarly sludge, and a surprising amount of melody too. It all adds up to create something rather special, and I couldn’t wait to bring this review to fruition, so that I could sing its praises on these pages.
In a year that has already brought some superb death metal-related releases to us, ‘All That Was Promised’ just keeps the quality going and, in many ways, ratchets things up even further. I cheekily put on social media a comment saying ‘let’s see what all the fuss is about’ before I listened for the first time. After just one spin through, I was left in no doubt about the need for the fuss. My head and ears felt battered and bruised, but I knew I was in the presence of something very exciting. With repeated listens, not only have my head and ears recovered, but my feelings towards this release have only got stronger.
As if often the way with me with the heavier end of the metal spectrum, I gravitated to a couple of songs early on, using them and my immediate affection for them as the gateway into the remainder of the album. Those songs on ‘All That Was Promised’ turned out to be ‘Decollation’, ‘Death Complex’, and ‘Casting Of The Self’.
‘Decollation’ begins in frenzied fashion, a blur of naked, fast aggression, led by some brilliant drumming, alongside swirling dissonant riffs that initially hit like a wall of impenetrable sound. But out of the maelstrom emerges some sharp guitar work and then, out of nowhere, clean vocals to duet with the gruff, venomous delivery. It’s at this point where I’m knocked from my chair thanks to a killer melodic section, the kind that makes me act like a meerkat on high alert. It’s initially short-lived, with a return to more aggressive soundscapes, littered with prog-esque intent. But the epic, blastbeat-infused melody returns, turning into a glorious melodic chug, so heavy but so inviting. If that wasn’t enough, Hath take us in a more ambient, delicate direction where the bass dances fleet-footed and a calm descends momentarily. It may only be early March, but we have another contender for song of the year here, I kid you not. It’s stunning.
In the case of ‘Death Complex’, it was the more overt black metal atmosphere that caught my ear from the outset. The cold, fast-picked riffs are violent, but are laced with enough melody to make an immediate impact with me. And the way in which the track flits between the black metal elements and the death metal trappings is very clever indeed, demonstrating the songwriting skills inherent within the band. As a result, there’s a definite majestic, imperious feel to the composition to compliment the brutality that comes as standard with Hath. There’s also a great ebb and flow to the track, including a great chugging assault at one point, as well as a superb twin lead solo late in the day that injects a further layer of melody and texture to an already fantastic song.
The magic of ‘Casting Of The Self’ meanwhile, begins with the delightful acoustic guitar intro that is melodic enough, but then is only built on when the track fully erupts. It is a more straightforward song in the respect that the melody drives this intro, making that word ‘epic’ spring to mind once again. No technically complex riffs, no mind-bending speed, just a driving, straight-up melodic power. The song descends back into minimalist territory briefly before normal service is resumed, albeit ever so slightly tempered but to positive effect, with a return of clean vocals that remind me of the likes of Mastodon.
From there, I allowed the rest of the album to work its charms, although I will admit that these charms did take a little longer in certain places. But it was worth the effort for sure, and it is fair to say that now, I find the entire record a real joy to listen to, even the more extreme, dissonant sections that would normally cause me a problem or two. The whole thing just works.
The record opens in commanding fashion with ‘The Million Violations’; after a quiet, brooding intro, the track erupts in a veritable explosion of sound. Bruising riffs, fast drumming, claustrophobic atmosphere – you name it. It’s here that the tone of the guitars makes a huge impact; so heavy, so crunchy, so dirty. ‘Kenosis’ takes over and it’s another top drawer blackened death metal assault on the senses, utterly devastating and technically proficient at the same time. It also delivers more melody than you initially realise, as it’s more subtle and buried deeper within the naked aggression, despite the first hints of those aforementioned clean vocals.
I could, and probably should, mention each of the nine songs individually because they all offer something worthy of exploration, especially ‘Lithopaedic’ because of the way in which it is complex, groovy, and intensely evil, all at the same time. Suffice to say though, in the forlorn pursuit of some kind of brevity to this review, that there really isn’t a moment wasted anywhere on ‘All That Was Promised’. It truly is a behemoth of a record and I’m already thinking that it’ll take a near miracle for another blackened death metal record to knock Hath off the top spot. Only time will tell of course, but in the meantime, simply sit back and enjoy a truly special disc of the highest quality.
The Score of Much Metal: 95%
Check out my other 2022 reviews here:
You can also check out my other reviews from previous years right here: