Oathbreaker – The Underworld, London (20th Jan 2017)

With doors opening at 6:00 p.m., opening band of the night barque take the stage just fifteen minutes in, performing to an already sizable crowd – notable, considering that they are one of four bands to play this Friday evening in Camden’s very own iconic Underworld venue. They pummel through songs off of their new release ‘Coffin Cutters’ which features the band’s own take on dark, atmospheric hardcore, with some parallels to Celeste‘s ‘Nihiliste(s)’ from 2008.

Grave Lines, a somewhat musically different, but no less technically proficient band then play their doom-laden sludge-stoner songs and are soon followed by Svalbard. 

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Svalbard recently supported post-emo-tinged-screamo legends The Saddest Landscape with two members filling in for vocalist/guitarist Serena who, due to real-life commitments, could unfortunately not make the tour. Despite playing an incredible set in Poland, the band are evidently very glad to be playing with their beloved original member with the unique, pained shrieking singular voice –  and seem all the more comfortable for it. They play a unique blend of post-hardcore tinged with black metal, post-rock and other elements with class, taste and finesse.

With no introduction, headliners Oathbreaker make their way on stage in dim lighting, not hesitating to play ’10:15′, segueing into ‘Second Son of R.’, the unintelligible climactic shrieking section of “You’ll never know the person I’ve be(come…)” being a definitive emotional high-point of the evening. During interviews on ‘Rheia‘, singer Caro Tanghe has mentioned wanting to incorporate the clean singing this new offering features for some time, in addition to her well-honed, upper register fry shrieking. And it’s amazing. Live, Oathbreaker play their instruments and sing just as well, if not better than on their studio releases. Tanghe’s clean singing, as well as her screams, sound rather unique. Were she a folk/indie/pop singer-songwriter, her voice would undoubtedly be universally lauded.

Five more tracks from ‘Rheia’ are offered to keen ears at this sold out show, with the band visibly humbled by their recent spike in popularity, thanking their fans for being here. It is a beautiful moment, and Tanghe speaks candidly and seemingly very genuinely. A track from each of their previous full-length albums are also performed, for an early finish. 9:52 to be exact.

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