By Ryan Bittle
Caro Tanghe and her bandmates of Belgian four-piece, Oathbreaker took Philadelphia quite literally by storm on the night of Wednesday March 15th, after they arrived for the first night of their U.S. tour.
In defiance of intense blizzard conditions, the bandmates managed to catch a last-minute flight to the States early last week. And boy was the crowd at Underground Arts glad they did. Oathbreaker unleashed a hot-blooded storm of their own on the stage they shared with powerhouse tourmates Jaye Jayle and King Woman.
The band took the stage to the hushed anticipation of a packed house, opening with the haunting and impassioned twin-track single, “10:56” / “Second Son of R.” from their latest LP Rheia.
“10:56” opens with vocalist Caro Tanghe’s captivating account of a profoundly personal childhood memory. She paints a sonic picture of guiding her father, broken-nosed and befuddled, from a cobble-stoned alley and back into their home.
Then, flanked by dual guitarists Gilles Demolder and Lennart Bossu, and bolstered by a driving rhythm section, drummer Wim Coppers and bassist Levy Seynaeve, Oathbreaker tore into the epic “Second Son of R.” with fervid conviction.
Soft, billowing guitars and lilting vocals gave way to a dynamic burst of intensity as Tanghe snarled into the mic from behind her cascading hair. Simultaneously, Demolder and Bossu unleashed a staccato of heavily distorted, but richly melodic guitar as Coppers and Seynaeve propelled the band forward with rapid and bounding might. The entire set, heavily consisting of tracks from the new album, rose and fell like an ocean, washing over the crowd in crashes and swells.
It was my privilege to interview Caro after the show. Caro and I discussed the pitfalls of becoming “boxed”, as she put it, by labels. It’s clear that while Oathbreaker remains true to their roots in the Belgian hardcore scene, they defy categorization. Caro made it abundantly clear that they do not consider themselves a hardcore band musically, but that they value the independent spirit and work ethic, which are cornerstones of that community.
Additionally, in my short-sighted attempt at light banter, having not considered the connection to Belgian clichés, Caro and I also had a sweeping discussion about waffles. She proved to be considerably knowledgeable, and it’s clear that American waffle culture could take a few tips from the originators of the dish.
Furthermore, she revealed to me that in her youth, she was informed that she embodied a type of “long-extinct goat.” And while I hope I managed to persuade her to view her “totem” as a compliment, in true Oathbreaker form, I believe she’ll always resist being boxed.
When all’s said and done, it’s clear that the band intends to use what they’ve learned from their 13 plus years of experience in Oathbreaker and other projects, and resolve to remain flexible, passionate, and devoted to their craft in the years to come.
In the wise words of Caro herself:
“When we recorded Rheia and when it came out, to me it felt like after this record anything was possible. We don’t ever want to make a record that’s the same, and I don’t think we’ve ever done that before. And so after this one we could do anything… There’s so many things that are possible, and I don’t want us to feel limited.”
Thanks again, Caro and Oathbreaker. Keep on creating.
If you would like to learn more about Caro and Oathbreaker, check out our full interview here.