A band truly coming into its own is a very exciting thing, especially if you’ve followed said musicians during their time together. Anyone who has been a fan of Belgian band Oathbreaker since their beginning had to know they had a world of potential, and that truly came to the surface on their stunning third full-length “Rheia.” Not only did this album open plenty more eyes and ears, but it also pushed them from just being a forward-thinking hardcore band into one that employed elements of doom, black metal, and post-rock expertly, weaving it into their overall narrative.
This 10-track record not only pushes the band ahead artistically, but also emotionally. The flashbacks to one’s formative years, the scars that resulted, the pain, and the absolution practically are physically tangible. Vocalist Caro Tanghe’s performance also goes above and beyond both in her words, which are absolutely gripping, and her singing that is as flexible and punishing as anyone else’s. To go from hushed singing, delivered mostly a capella, on opener “10:56” seamlessly into demonic ripper moments later on “Second Son of R.” (I’ve witnessed it live, and the transformation is unreal) proves her ability and might as a performer. The rest of the band—guitarist Lennart Bossu, bassist Gilles Demolder, and drummer Ivo Debrabandere—provide muscular, moody, passionate backing on songs such as “Being Able to Feel Nothing,” “Needles in Your Skin,” and the poetic triptych “I’m Sorry, This Is,” “Where I Live,” and “Where I Leave.” These four artists have gone from being a very good, reliable band to something absolutely special. It took them creating “Rheia,” a statement that will stick with you long after the music ends. Where they go from here is anyone’s guess.
Unfortunately, due to touring and other scheduling issues, we were not able to connect with Oathbreaker to discuss this great album. But we hope to be able to in the future. Instead, here’s what we had to say about “Rheia” in our September review:
“10:56” and “Second Son of R” open the record as conjoined tracks (they even released a video containing the two cuts together). The first song begins a capella, with Tanghe recounting someone plunging out of a window and landing face-first on the cobblestone. Bleeding and in disrepair, the music enters and rises as Tanghe melds along with them into a horrific explosion. From there, memories of childhood dash across the frantic song, laying waste to everything, poking at memories dashed with rejection and filth. The screams and growls are fire-breathing and dangerous, as the guitars crush and over the chorus, through gritted teeth, Tanghe wails, “Don’t make me pity you.” The song sounds like it’s buttoning up, going cold and quiet, before hell engulfs the world, and animalistic, surely cathartic cries blast from Tanghe’s body almost as if she can’t control the emotion. “Being Able to Feel Nothing” exposes itself from its title, as dark fury pelts and raspy singing uncovers “the stains I’ll never manage to remove.” The lava pours anew toward the end, and Tanghe wails the title over and over again. “Stay Here” pulls back some, with acoustic guitars leading, the singing as strong as anywhere, and a touch of noir adding more shadow. “Needles In Your Skin” is another highlight, with clean singing and Tanghe calling, “I’m reaching out for you,” before the guts are torn out. The storm hovers overhead and tears down walls, with the track trudging, melody merging with volatility, and Tanghe wondering, “How could you go without me?”
“Immortals,” an interesting title if you know anything about the myth of Rheia, has slurry singing and a punchy tempo before the lid if pulled off. The pace explodes, with terrifying howls switching off with passionate singing, the pace crushing but sometimes bringing serenity, and later the pounding arriving all over. Tanghe sings over the smoke pits, while the guitars gaze, and the song comes to an atmospheric end. The next three cuts are interconnected, with “I’m Sorry, This Is” a pocket of ambiance and peripheral noise, mixing into “Where I Live” that has sounds penetrating and voices buried beneath. The song then takes off, with horrible cries and screams cutting through the center, and noise squalls pushing into “Where I Leave.” There, guitars chime, and a fog situates over it all, with the pace plodding along as Tanghe levels, “I’ll be a lonely child.” The song has ample amounts of power, though it’s widely delivered at mid-pace, and the ending run of refrain repetition and hypnotic playing leave your head spinning. Closer “Begeerte” has voices spiraling in a vortex before clean guitars drip, static drums punch holes, and a pace that feels like feet trying to make their way through thick mud spreads. “I draw pleasure from it,” Tanghe calls, as the song begins to lift off from the earth and disintegrate into the sky.
(Released Sept. 30, 2016)
For more on the band, go here: http://theoathbreakerreigns.com/
To buy the album, go here: http://store.deathwishinc.com/category/new.html
For more on the label, go here: http://www.deathwishinc.com/