Of Rot and Ruin combines a base of death metal aggression with black metal’s dark emotive qualities to produce and album that hits hard and memorably, and easily draws you back for more and more.
The use of dynamics and effective structuring to forge these impressive tracks is well-realised, and the band’s songwriting on this album has clearly been thought over and refined over time. There’s ample emotive force here because of this. Hath ably demonstrate that they can write not only punishing brutality, but also music that can uplift and raise hairs, before descending once more into the realms of blackened aggression. And of course, these two states don’t seem to be mutually exclusive on Of Rot and Ruin either.
The music is shrouded in gloom and darkness, yet through this we glimpse haunting melodies and unsettling riffs. These are deeply embedded in the type of musical framework that may be brutal and unyielding, but still knows how to foster compelling atmosphere and mood. Progressive metal elements can be heard too, further enriching the band’s sound.
The vocals are as well-performed as anything else here. Primarily delivered by pitch-black deathgrowls, these are aided and abetted by a range of screams, semi-cleans, and outright singing. Like the rest of the music, these are all impressive and enjoyable, and add real emotional weight at times.
Each song is a well-constructed world of its own, with lots to explore and experience. Even better though is the fact that we have an album’s worth of these worlds to traverse, and despite its length, (55 minutes), it never drags, loses coherence, or drops the listener’s attention. Wide-ranging, diverse, multifaceted, layered, and richly textured; these are not words usually associated with something like blackened death metal, but they absolutely are on Of Rot and Ruin.
Hath’s focus on songs, atmosphere, and emotive appeal is absorbing and completely pays off. The fact that this is channelled through blackened death metal that has depth and nuance is unusual, but all the more wonderful for it.
Of Rot and Ruin is essential listening for any extreme metal fan, I’d say.