New Jersey-based progressive death metal band Hath have just released their second full-length album, All That Was Promised, on the Willowtip label. It’s really good. It starts off slow, with the somewhat doomy and dissonant “The Million Violations,” but as it goes on it takes some very interesting turns, speeding up and becoming more melodic than you might expect, even throwing in clean vocals and synths here and there. If I had to make a quick and reductive comparison, I would say there’s a lot of Ghost Reveries-era Opeth in their sound, but I hear things that remind me of The Black Dahlia Murder and Baroness, too. They’re progressive without forgetting to write hooks, and catchy while staying heavy as fuck. It’s a good combination. Buy All That Was Promised on Bandcamp.
I sent the band a few questions, which guitarist Peter Brown and drummer AJ Viana were kind enough to answer. Check those out below.
The songs on this album are noticeably shorter than on Of Rot And Ruin. Was tightening up the compositions a conscious effort or did it just happen?
Peter Brown: I think it was a conscious effort but not in the sense that we decided “the songs have to be shorter this time.” We started production with the idea that we wanted this album to feel more focused and cohesive from start to finish than Of Rot and Ruin. When we were finalizing the song ideas we listened to everything on repeat as a group and nitpicked every detail. Did a certain riff feel too long, did a drum pattern work in that spot, how can we add more texture in spots? It created this sense that whatever we do has to work in service to the song and if that means cutting a riff short, repeating a section or adding lead, we’ll do it as long as it makes the song better. It just ended up with each song being a little shorter.
What do you still want to get better at, either as an individual musician or as a band?
PB: I try to keep up a practice routine at home and as a group we constantly challenge each other to do better. My focus right now is to get better at writing songs. It’s one thing to write a really technical song with crazy phrases and sweeping everywhere but it’s just as difficult to write a hook or melody that gets stuck in your head. All four of us play guitar really well in different ways. AJ [Viana, drums], Greg [Nottis, bass] and Frank [Albanese, guitars/vocals] are all phenomenal songwriters and Greg is a fantastic improvisational player so there really isn’t any room for me to slack off.
There are several little moments that really jumped out at me on this album; I’m just gonna list them and ask you to talk about them however you want:
• the drumstick clicking and the almost hidden backing vocals early in “The Million Violations”
AJ Viana: I was listening to a lot of The Ocean at the time I was figuring out drums and pacing for this song, and one thing they do really well is using things like run clicks or percussion to add a rhythmic element to keep momentum going in a quiet part. For that part specifically, it’s sandwiched between two really high-energy sections, so I didn’t want to lose that forward momentum, so rim clicks felt like a good move.
• the synth part toward the end of “Decollation”
AJV: Frank and I had talked a lot about how we were going to incorporate synth and other sounds on the record. For that part specifically the lead that was there was actually a guitar, and I was struggling to get it to sit right in the mix with all the background synths and stuff going on. So on a whim I tried playing the same part but through a Mini Moog virtual instrument, and it sounded killer and it really reframed that middle section.
• the guitar solo on “Death Complex”
PB: I’m really happy with how this one came out. I tried to hit a good balance of melody and “look what I can do” while still keeping it doable if we want to play it live.
• the sort of chanted clean vocal section on “Casting of the Self”
Pete: I wasn’t there when they came up with the harmonies and recorded this part. I showed up to the studio after it was done and the three of them were like, “you gotta hear this.” I still get goosebumps and amped up when I hear it. It’s fighting with “Lithopaedic”‘s breakdown as my favorite part on the album.
Three of the four of you are (were?) also in Ophidius, an instrumental prog metal band inspired by Skyrim. Can you give a short history of that project and where it stands in 2022?
PB: Ophidius started around 2012 when me, Frank, AJ and our friend Nick Mader wanted to start an instrumental tech-death band. We thought coming up with song names for instrumental music was kind of dumb and were all really into Skyrim at the time so we thought, why not frame the music as if it were a soundtrack to Skyrim and the songs would be the score to missions in the game. It started as kind of a joke and took on a little life of its own. Ophid’s not dead but just been quiet since Hath got going. We’re sitting on roughly an album’s worth of ideas.
Five reasons New Jersey is better than New York – go!
1. NJ bagels actually have everything on them
2. NJ can do more pushups than NY
3. 3 hockey teams? Ridiculous
4. More cranberry bogs per capita
5. Protecting NYC from Philly 24/7
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