09. Oathbreaker – Rheia
The sort of emotional turmoil that arises immediately after a separation can inspire varying states of thought, being, and creation. For Oathbreaker, it brought about the elements that would lead to one of this year’s most remarkable post-black metal albums. Knee-jerk reactions would categorize this Belgian quartet as Deafheaven-adjacent, but the band’s post-hardcore past lends itself well to notably harsher riffs, panicked vocals, and an existentially broader scope from which to pull.
Favoring to lash out through self-deconstruction rather than melancholic or outright vengeful lyrics, vocalist Caro Tanghe presents the pieces of herself through trembling pleas and harsh cries that demand presence from all involved. Meanwhile, torrential riffs form discordant maelstroms that surround her voice and only relent for Tanghe to rise up even more spiteful and menacing than before. Rheia is an uncompromising album that constantly lies to listeners about the amount of comfort it’s willing to provide, which as it turns out, is very little. –Sean Barry