Published Sep 28, 2016Belgian metallic hardcore outfit Oathbreaker have always struggled deliciously against the shackles of the genre they operate within, preferring to throw themselves against the bars of their chosen cage and record the clamour than try and operate comfortable within in. With their third full-length, Rheia, they have torn those restraints clean out of the wall, releasing a vast and complex record that doesn't just react toward but actively embraces the aesthetics of doom and sludge.
Many of the songs are massive and devastating, like the stomping morass of Being Able to Feel Nothing," tar-drenched and hate-soaked. "Immortals" undulates with a thick muscularity, like a huge snake coiling and uncoiling, and the record closes with the hauntingly hypnotic and deeply heavy "Begeerte."
Even more astounding than the heaviness, though, is Oathbreaker's ability to balance the new depths they are wallowing in with achingly beautiful points of light. The album opener has some gasp-inducing clean vocals that add just a bit of starlight to the midnight-blackness of a lot of the guitar tone. "Stay Here / Accroche-Moi" is deeply distorted but retains a plaintive purity beneath it all.
Even heavier tracks, like the flagship "Needles In Your Skin" have a disarming vulnerability to them, little moments of honest clarity and nakedness that makes all the violence and heaviness so much more sharply defined. There is eloquence to this anguish, and it is an awful and lovely thing. (Deathwish Inc.)