You probably wouldn’t believe us if we told you just how many times we have listened to this album since a promo copy dropped in our inbox and it all of a sudden felt like Christmas. Having kept a close eye on the studio updates the band have been providing as well as attending what was without a doubt one of the strong contenders for gig of the year back in May when Oathbreaker tore apart the underworld in London, we have been waiting for this day and couldn’t help but include it within our reviews on the website.
The new album which is entitle Rheia will land in stores on September 30th and will come in the usual format. Interestingly the band have also added two limited edition runs of vinyl in two different colours, each limited to 500 copies only. Naturally being the collectors we are, we couldn’t help but pre order both.
The band, which formed in 2008 in Ghent, Belgium, released their debut full-length Maelstrom in 2011 on Deathwish Records, which was followed by the critically-acclaimed Eros Anteros full-length in 2013 (also on Deathwish Records). Rheia, which was engineered, mixed, and mastered by Jack Shirley (Deafheaven, Loma Prieta), Oathbreaker have hit their stride and carve a new path for their blackened/post-metal sound. It is a deeply personal album that showcases the artistic strength that vulnerability brings and provide a listener with a set of songs that speaks volumes.
The album begins with ‘10:56/Second Son of R’ two tracks that the listener will be no stranger two at this point as the band released an epic video which included both pieces of music. Immediately, there is a feeling of grief that befalls the listener as things progress and there is no mistaking it at this point, we are in for one hell of a ride. The grief quickly turns into anger as the song concludes with an absolute barrage of terrifying screams that can only come from someone with something to scream about with “You’ll never know the person I’ve become” being the lyrics that end the song. There is so much feel to this incredible beginning, its something that makes us wanting more.
‘Being Able To Feel Nothing’ continues to give the listener the signature brutality of the Oathbreaker sound with guitars and drums that are hammered whilst vocalist Caro Tanghe provides the tormented words over the top that adds a vulnerable child like feel to the singing which is further demonstrated on ‘Stay Here/Accroche-Moi’ which takes the album to another place entirely with a slower acoustic guitar based track and the ambience of vocals that reverb and give the feeling of emptiness as it progresses. It’s a moment of beauty filled with sadness.
Another song to surface from the band prior to the albums release is ‘Needles In Your Skin’ that has its moments of calm before that harsh Oathbreaker sound kicks right in to tear your face off. It’s a song that paints a picture of worry and loss in the listener’s head with the words “how could you go without me” repeated throughout. ‘Immortals' takes things in a different direction though. The vocal patterns with the music gives the track a different feel at the beginning before turning into something vicious in what almost feels like the bands take on a song about love. The terrifying screams of “you ate my heart out, I am stone” ends each verse.
Its at this point the following three songs that make up A musical triptych that is both ambitious and a work of art that needs to be heard. The tracks ‘I'm Sorry, This Is’, ‘Where I Live’, and ‘Where I Leave’ are an interesting trio that begins with the slow sounds of ambience, spoken words and the sounds of children playing right before things turn slow and heavy in the second part of this trio. It doesn’t take long for the brutality of Oathbreaker to kick in and for things to be taken up a notch. Expect blast beats, screaming guitars and ferocity before things conclude.
The album does not close on a heavy note. Instead the band have opted for the eerie sounds of the track entitled ‘Begeerte’ and it works perfectly. It’s a moment where the listener is taken on a dark ride to finish things off after an exhausting experience.
This album, quite frankly has surpassed our expectations and has shot right up there with the best of the year. The thing Rheia manages to achieve is special. It will take you, grab hold of you and will not let go until the very end and you know the best thing about it? You’ll love every second of it and its ability to invoke a multitude of emotions from sadness to anger and even happiness in places. This isn’t just music. Its art and you can’thelp but feel a little empty once its finished.