H is for Hoth
I missed the golden opportunity of writing about this record back in December, when it would have been posted in conjunction with The Force Awakens. Alas, that thought never entered my mind back then. Instead, I’m taking the opportunity to write about it now, when there is no snow on the ground and it is decidedly un-Hoth like outside. Poor planning part two!
The first thing you’ll notice about Hoth and Infinite Darkness is Star Wars references abound around every corner. Seriously. Album opener and instrumental intro “Infinite Darkness” and brief interlude “Boreal Winds” are the only songs that don’t have a Star Wars reference (at least to my knowledge). The band’s name and the TIE fighter stylized logo should give it away immediately. Then there are the songs. They’re drowning in it. “The Rancor,” “Ghosts of Alderaan,” “The Frozen Wastes of Hoth,” “Torn Asunder by a Wampa.” This is what would’ve happened if Dissection and Amon Amarth would put in charge of writing the Star Wars soundtrack instead of John Williams.
The result? Some mid-tempo death metal, some solid chops, and some deep death metal throats (and a few blackened shrieks), and two guys proudly wearing their nerdiness on their Stormtrooper sleeves. But it’s not a gimmick. There’s solid death metal beneath the pop culture appeal. Check out the galloping solo and guitar work in songs like “Drowned by the Dianoga” or “Interstellar Gargantuan Space Slug.” The keys and blast beats in “The Frozen Wastes of Hoth,” have a very Dissection vibe, and hint at things to come. Album closer, “The Rancor,” is an epic seven and a half minute ode to the great beast lurking beneath the floors of Jabba’s palace, packed full of riffs, intricate melodies, and a progressive structure not seen on the album’s other seven hymns to the dark creatures of the galaxy.
Despite the solid death metal here, the big appeal of Infinite Darkness is the fact the record is dripping in Star Wars lyrics. That in itself is incredibly creative and surprising that we haven’t seen more of it. It’s a challenge to make that theme fit lyrically as well as Hoth does, and they do a great job of it. But when they leave that behind is when they really take off. Their sophomore record, Oathbreaker, might have left the icy wastes of Hoth behind, but it’s much more frostbitten, fully embracing the black half of blackened death metal. They show their Dissection influence more, a thing not enough bands do, and put out one of the best metal records of 2014. Regardless, revel in the darkness of the Empire and the galaxy’s most brutal beasts with Infinite Darkness below.