Monday, February 19, 2018

Oathbreaker - Rheia (2016) review

Oathbreaker - Rheia
9.30.16 via Deathwish Records
Blackened Hardcore / Black Metal

I honestly have struggled to come up with a description as to why this album was influential and important to me in 2016 simply because no mere words can do this album justice. This Belgian quartet has evolved and matured drastically from their Deathwish debut “Mælstrøm” back in 2011, with the aforementioned debut and sophomore album “Eros/Anteros” (both being considered classics in my book) being stepping stones for the colossus that is “Rheia”. What ultimately separates “Rheia” from their previous work (and pretty much all other contemporaries in the genre) boils down to 3 distinctive qualities: Caro’s vocal delivery, Jack Shirley’s production, and atmosphere. While we still partially get the vocal delivery from Caro that we have grown to expect, the later portion of “Rheia” (which is much more experimental/progressive) is primarily her angelic-like clean vocals. While this may push some away, I personally feel that the contrast between the cleans and harsh vocals help compliment one another. Jack Shirley’s production (which I first noticed on Deafheavens albums) is truly a work of art here: every instrument (including vocals) is easily distinguishable, and is neither raw nor over-produced. The combination of both Caro’s vocals and the production help create the atmosphere on this album, which is quite immense. No matter how many times I listen, I’m still pulled into the world that is created, which somehow manages to be both dark/brooding and calm/peaceful (how I’ve felt the latter is still a mystery to me). I honestly could talk all day about how much I love this album and why it’s my 2016 album of the year, but I can’t describe conjure into words the true beauty of this album, so just do yourself a favor and check it out, you won't regret it.


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