I must confess I am a man of extremes and when it comes to music I always have been, from my teenage years and the race to find the heaviest band on earth to my later adoration for Brutal Death Metal. This search for extremity often means that I can forget about certain genre tags, one in particular being the Melodic tag. To me calling something Melodic Death Metal or Melodic Black Metal is like calling it Decaf Death Metal but that said I actually have grown to enjoy numerous Melodic bands over the years.

One such band who fall into the melodious bracket are the star destroying Black Metallers Hoth. these masters of melody burst onto the scene in 2011 latterly gaining a good reputation in 2014 with their sophomore album Oathbreaker but where do you go from such success? Onward and upward apparently. 2018 sees the release of Astral Necromancy through Epicurus Records but can its force choke hold us in its grip or will we find its lack of faith disturbing.

Charging the snowy plains with ultimate force Vengeance opens proceedings, a titanic mother load of Melodic Black Metal that showers us in melody, memorability and a bizarrely mainstream flare that simply hits all the right notes. This level of unlimited power is seconded by its successors in songs like Passage Into Entropy, The Gathering Of The Accursed Artifacts and The Void Between The Stars. Each track oozes well written Melodic Black Metal that touches on Symphonic and Death Metal at points.

The main elements for me that stood out were the guitar tone and vocals, both of which are so pure and crisp yet desperately metallic and savage all the same. It wouldn’t be fair to say that this is on the side of Black Metal for those seeking the ultra kvlt, rather this is a sort of stepping stone into the marshes of extremity and to me that’s exactly what this sort of Melodic Metal should be. Are there areas to improve? Of course, not every album is perfect perhaps this album is a little long, or perhaps the instrumental is pointless but these things aside Astral Necromancy is a tour de force.

Hoth truly impressed me with this album, after a few listens I was hooked and still have many riffs and lyrics rattling inside my brain. These guys are essentially the Black Metal equivalent of Amon Amarth and that suits me perfectly, they may not be exactly to my perfect tastes but every now and then I like something that blends both the extreme and the accessible and that in itself is and achievement on Hoth’s part, may the force be with them.

(8/10 George Caley)