You’d be mistaken if you didn’t think that the metal genre isn’t dragon’s treasure horde of fucking nerd-ery, especially in lyrical themes and in some cases, entire genres. I know we’ll puff out our chests and stomp our feet in defiance of the “nerd” label but come on, how many bands are there based entirely on Lovecraft or Tolkien? Not to mention all the sci-fi themed bands, vikings, horror movies, and a lesser traveled area of metal themes, Star Wars, where we find Hoth.
The thing about Hoth is that they’re both an on the nose Star Wars reference in name (and that amazing logo) alone, but also very cryptic about it as well. At least lyrically, and that’s once of the more impressive aspects of the band. Musically, Hoth has progressed from a blackened melodic death metal band to melodic black metal band that incorporates elements of folk, death metal, and power metal. It’s like a symphonic Skeletonwitch, or early Dimmu Borgir. The music is grand, sweeping, and epic, which fits perfectly with the universe they’ve been establishing over the past two albums. That Universe being the black metal “space opera” universe, which makes fucking perfect sense to me.
Hoth’s debut was much more boastful in it’s appreciation of Star Wars. It’s hard to misinterpret what a song called “Torn Asunder by a Wampa” is about, but on their second album, Oathbreaker, the band really hit their own unique stride. See, they didn’t just go wholeheartedly in to the Star Wars worship, the took the idea of Anakin’s fall to the Darkside and used the ideas, and feelings, and emotions, filtered it through the dark and brooding, evil lens of astral evil and black metal vitriol to actually make a unique take on a story that we all know so well. And it fucking worked brilliantly. The ideas of loss, transformation, anger, hate, coupled with the dark visuals of a character like Darth Vader and The Emperor lend themselves so naturally to a black metal story telling mode that it became my favorite Star Wars related thing of the past decade, or maybe even longer.
Cut to now when I was anxiously awaiting the bands new album Astral Necromancy to find that it’s even fucking better. Hoth’s sound is still rooted in that melodic black metal area but they’ve up the guitar work, dropped most of the folk elements, and added more atmospheric and operatic qualities. It’s so fucking catchy and soaring, and mesmerizing. And as far as the Star Wars themes go, it’s even more subdued this time. Like Oathbreaker it’s more reliant on themes than specific story points. This album follows themes of power. Lusting after power, corrupting power, desire to use power for evil. Themes that when parred with Star Wars could reflect traits of characters like Darth Plagieus or Palpatine, or many of the ancient Sith. It’s up to you if you want to seek out the Star Wars references or just enjoy it as a thematic work, and that’s what I was talking about before with Hoth’s creativity. I’d rather have a wholly artistic reinterpretation that is based around themes or ideas of something than just another flashy, corporate dictated, toy pushing product vomited out to the audiences open and eager mouths. That’s why this album and band work so well. They have the musical chops to serve creative revisionist approach to their storytelling and managed to make something that is the deadest fucking horse seem fresh and different. Hoth fucking rules.