For ten long years OATHBREAKER have been hidden away deep within the musical underground without so much as a hint at breaking out. Their hefty black metal sound that fuses with elements of hardcore and ambience means their sound is hard to digest immediately. With their new album Rheia however, the Belgium four piece are able to take their bleak and dark sound and project onto an incredibly varied musical landscape with colossal success. Their sound is thoughtful and Rheia is a journey into a dark and cold world.
Opener 10:56 is a beautifully haunting introduction before Second Son of R. releases a tidal wave of blast beats and guitar. The wall of sound is jarring but the song doesn’t take long to find its feet as it gallops along lead by the harrowing banshee shriek of vocalist Caro Tanghe. The discord guitar patters paint a grey background but the song quickly transforms into a melodic powerhouse thanks to the incredibly diverse vocals that can shift in an instant. The diversity and ease of transition from each element of OATHBREAKER’s sound is part of the reason why Rheia is such a triumph and as the pain filled howls end the second track of the album it becomes crystal clear that this album is something else entirely.
This is not an album that can be simply thrown on for back ground music. Pretty much every track featured clocks in at over the five-minute mark and as such results in a unique and interesting creation with every song. The bleak and blood thirsty lyrics of Being Able To Feel Nothing are accompanied by a trudging musical backing that slows down the pace to great effect before rocketing off at breakneck speed, creating genuine discomfort with the crooning vocals.
As Stay Here/Arroche Moi creates a soothing early break from the pummelling atmosphere that OATHBREAKER have created so effortlessly with the early three tracks it’s Needles In Your Skin and Immortals that provide the best album highlights. Needles in Your Skin builds itself up before exploding in a flurry of rage and sadness before plateauing and beautifully bleeding into white noise, making quite the impact. Immortals is the longest track on the record and for good reason, and its sonic wall lifts Caro’s vocals to their highest point on the record, as the harmonies ring before cascading effortlessly into her painful shrill. It’s a true showcase of her clear talent and is comfortably the most impressive and captivating part of Rheia. OATHBREAKER have built themselves around her powerhouse ability and it really shines through here on this record.
As Begeerte closes the record, it allows the perfect soundtrack for reflection on the previous nine songs. The beauty of the opener that is quickly banished by throat tearing shrills displays a bleakness that the band harness for a legitimate emotive experience when listening to the music. The want and need for the beautiful cleans to come back makes OATHBREAKER’s music captivating and is part of Rheia’s charm. The pacing is certainly jarring and odd upon first listen, as the constant and relentless tempo changes make things difficult to digest but once the penny drops, you’ll find Rheia to be one of the most hauntingly brilliant releases of the year and easily OATHBREAKER’s best musical venture.
Rheia is set for release on September 30th via Deathwish Inc.
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