Album Review: Oathbreaker - 'Eros|anteros'

29 July 2013 | 6:23 am | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

Grim, powerful and unrelenting, Oathbreaker prove why they're one of the most interesting names in hardcore.

Belgium appear to have a knack for hosting bands that are, for lack of a better word, evil as fuck. Since the mid-2000's it has been home to Cleveland-based act Integrity, pioneers of the hellish “holy terror” subgenre. Add to that native outfit Rise and Fall, whose caustic and unabashedly dark brand of crust-tinged hardcore has seen them command a huge fanbase. Now, top it off with Oathbreaker. 'Eros|anteros' is the second album from the Ghent band, following up 2011's deservedly successful Deathwish Inc. debut 'Maelstrom'. Savage, pulverising and downright bleak, it's a harrowing and thoroughly evocative listen.

The album opens with an ambient wailing of ominous guitars on first track 'Beeltenis', stirring up visions of some kind of long-sleeping beast slowly awakening. There's something decidedly sinister about how the dissonant sonic landscape meshes as frontwoman Caro Tanghe whispers in her native tongue. Without warning, the band abruptly kick into 'No Rest for the Weary', an aggressive, fast paced hardcore track. Pounding drums and a resilient bassline complement heavily metallic-influenced riffs and Tanghe's vicious growl.

Over the next 40 odd minutes, Oathbreaker navigate between crushing, chaotic aural assaults to gloomy, expansive soundscapes that demonstrate a penchant for sludgy post-metal. 'As I Look Into the Abyss' is a two and a half-minute frenzy of discordant punk energy placed side by side with 'The Abyss Looks Into Me', a haunting, ethereal journey clocking in at the nine minute mark. This juxtaposition is scattered generously throughout 'Eros|anteros' – see 'Agartha', as the band dart back and forth between violent outbursts and chilling clean guitar parts, complete with Tanghe's cold, softly-spoken vocals. Final track 'Clair obscure' is an eerie, drawn-out close that spends eleven minutes in brooding, exhausted reverie.

With their second album, Oathbreaker proudly move outside the bounds of traditional approaches to melody, texture and dynamics, exploring a host of moods and styles and ultimately developing one of the most exceptional hardcore/metal releases of the year alongside fellow Deathwish act Deafheaven.

1. Beeltenis

2. No Rest for the Weary

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3. Upheaval

4. As I Look Into the Abyss

5. The Abyss Looks Into Me

6. Condor Tongue

7. Offer Aan De Leegte

8. Agartha

9. Nomads

10. Clair Obscur