Oathbreaker’s third full length Rheia has been something of a breakthrough success, taking them from relative obscurity to the forefront of the blackgaze movement.


The Belgian quartet’s mix of post-black metal and hardcore is dominated by frontwoman Caro Tanghe’s vocals, which seethe and catapult to a boundless level, bodied against the drilling and colossal intensity of the rhythm. ‘Second Son of R’ is a prime example of the album’s incredibly rich sound, showing Tanghe’s vocals fluctuating between her mystical, almost child-like clean form, to the ear-piercing wrath of her screams. Not only does she sound effortlessly powerful, she holds incredible skill when translating emotion into the mix, with ‘Being Able To Feel Nothing’ and ‘Needles In Your Skin’ revealing a definite anguish within their melodies. 


The inescapable feelings of darkness on the record permeate most sections of the music, exuded by the viscerally heavy Deafheaven-like guitar riffs and thunderous blast beats but also in the ambient drones and warped effects in some of the album’s quieter moments. ‘I’m Sorry This Is’ and ‘Begeerte’ especially create a strange sense of uncertainty.‘Stay Here / Accroche-Moi’ brings an acoustic sound with delicate guitar strums, a melancholic melody and ghostly vocals singing poetic and dramatic lyrics such as “hand out your troubles, give me your pain // I'll plant them next to the thorns in my veins”.

This record is a continuous alternation between that of dream-like atmospheric sections and the flat-out nightmares of the extreme metal passages, constantly racing from one end of the spectrum to the other. It does get repetitive - Oathbreaker put their own spin on the formula they inherited, but don’t necessarily do anything to change it - but nonetheless remains eerie, mysterious, and often thoroughly enjoyable throughout.