Oathbreaker – The Exchange, Bristol (Live Review)

Oathbreaker’s eclectic panache sets them apart from the masses of unoriginal bands clawing their way into the music scene. Their distinctive genre sits boldly within the depths of black metal, post-hardcore and punk, with a touch of euphoric avant-garde majesty – and on this night in particular, there was nothing but this splendour on offer. What more could a person with high anticipations want from their first gig of the year?

Opening the event were Svalbard, a screaming, punky, and lurid group who made the jam-packed venue feel like the most intimate encounter conceivable. With such an atmosphere it was easy to recognise the tight-knit characteristics that the band gifted us with so effortlessly. Not only were they polished however, their fast-paced drumming and beautifully devastating guitar leads were also unique in sound and of a high calibre. Admittedly, it felt like a rather short set, but their screaming music dutifully prepared the audience for their next meaty course.

Drowning in applause and high expectations Oathbreaker soon took to the stage. The atmosphere was sweaty, the audience were pumped, and soon all manners of heaven and hell broke loose.

Caro Tanghe is a crushingly intense wraithlike frontwoman with more curious congeniality than I could ever articulate. Soaring between sweetly soft sung vocals and harsh shrieking screams, she was a devastating force that required obsessive devotion from everyone in attendance. The pure overpowering nature of her voice and stage presence essentially made the clocks stop, as we all lingered in a place where serenity met intensity. Personally, I was enraptured, and I think I still am.

She was not the only star upon the stage however, as the remaining band members also spewed their expressive talent across the venue for all to absorb. There was no scrap of instrumental aptitude held back, and there was something so desperately magical about the intense crescendos blaring throughout the venue. There was absolutely nothing to criticise.

Though the music was seeped in a heavily addictive energy however, this wasn’t a gig that merited mosh-pits and brash antics. This was an experience that weighed heavily upon your soul and made you want to close your eyes in order to absorb every last morsel of emotion. I’m not religious, but I can only equate this gig to being a kind of spiritual experience that you never quite recover from.

The bar for 2017 has been set high by this event, and I for one am going to make it my personal mission to mentally relive this experience again and again until I crumble from old-age.

Words by Keira Trethowan
Photography by Craig Taylor-Broad

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