Hoth is a band of a sort that I have never encountered before. Though with a name like Hoth it seems like it should be obvious. They call their genre cinematic metal and, if it’s not clear already, they are Star Wars fans. There is always a possibility that a band like that becomes gimmicky and predictable, going too far to tell their fans “We love Star Wars!” and turning away many potential listeners. However, Hoth does not do this, they are smart enough to know to create something that is clearly inspired and directed by an outside force without falling prey to the looking ridiculous.
Oathbreaker is their second full length album that came out in 2014. It’s a concept album based on Anakin Skywalker’s fall from grace that, to be quite honest, is far superior storytelling than the actual movies. The band is not hampered with bad acting, a wonky script, or horrible pacing. They have the advantage of using their own musical talents to tell the story the right way. Concept albums are some of my favorite albums, I love listening to stories told without any sort of actual storytelling. Telling a story through music alone is a challenge that only a few bands attempt, and fewer pull off. It’s almost like a litmus test, if you can create a concept album that actually tells a good story, you can do almost anything.
Each song is of pretty epic length, the shortest being around six and a half minutes. I love long songs, being a huge Summing and Opeth fan so I felt right at home here. The band is talented, there is no denying that, they weave melodies of their own creation with melodies borrowed from the Star Wars films themselves (the only positive from the movies in my opinion) to tell the story of Anakin from a different light. We can see his struggle with his relationship to the Jedi and what they are supposed to represent as he begins to see the cracks in the walls and the decay under the floorboards. It’s not really even a fall from grace, it’s a realization that he has been going down the wrong path to begin with.
The only thing I can find fault in is the intro to each song, each one starts with an ambient intro that sort of takes me out of the storytelling. There is nothing wrong with the music itself, in fact some of the best music is the intros and they show off the skills of the musicians better than any riff they could come up with, but it hinders the flow of the songs into a coherent story. Each song is a separate chapter rather than a piece of the puzzle, but only in a minor way.
If you aren’t a fan of metal but consider yourself a Star Wars fan, this is a great band to check out.