Dawn of a different apocalypse
dB rating: 8/10
Release Date: September 30, 2016
Label: Deathwish, Inc.
Touring behind the excellent 2013 metallic hardcore/black metal mashup Eros|Anteros, hunched over a mic stand at its lowest possible setting, long, thick Cousin Itt-like hair obscuring her face, Oathbreaker vocalist Caro Tanghe cut an impressively John Tardy-esque figure, both as a matter of aesthetics and unadulterated phonetic defilement. She tackled a smattering of the ethereal “clean” parts sprinkled throughout Eros|Anteros, sure, but in a reserved, circumspect manner that seemed to pretty clearly telegraph she was more comfortable sticking with the explosive, hey-let-me-see-if-I-can-puke-my-stomach-up-onto-the-stage-floor approach. Difficult to blame her: In rendering that acute rage and vulnerability live, Tanghe is a mesmerizing force of nature.
Which is at least in part why the sonic transmogrification revealed on the Belgian quartet’s third full-length, Rheia, comes as such an unexpected and enlivening jolt. The black metal violence and weird Swans-y interludes have by no means been entirely scuttled, either as matter of riffs or vox, but these are now only two of several strong elements in the mix and they not infrequently take a backseat to more expansive, intricate and fleshed out detours and ambushes. For her part, Tanghe has grown into a legit extreme music chanteuse—virtually every banshee wail or death gargle eventually flows with a improbable seamlessness into a soulful, nuanced, gorgeously sung part, and then back again, surrendering to dark currents that can never be completely appeased or escaped. Most of us probably never knew we had a deep, abiding longing for a band capable of synthesizing the best parts of Converge, Neurosis, PJ Harvey, Alcest, Watain and Concrete Blonde, and yet… here we are. Equal parts beguiling and disquieting, Rheia is a bold, radical album that could very well mark not just a new epoch dawning for Oathbreaker but for challenging, smart heavy music in toto.
— Shawn Macomber
This review taken from the November 2016 issue.
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