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Female fronted bands, something that is quite rare in the current metal scene. That's why bands that utilize this often don't hold back to let you know this, and like to constantly remember you of this fact. The worst part is that a lot of them use this obscurity as a veil of protection, trying to hide average music behind a cute female's smile in the hope the metal/extreme music community will be nice for them. However for the band who named themselves after a neurosis song, Oathbreaker this is luckily not the case. Yes this is a female fronted band, but one much like Fuck The Facts or Salome, as the female fronting this band has some serious balls.
 
Oathbreaker is a Belgium hardcore quartet reigning from the city of Ghent and existing out of the following members= Vocals: Caro Bass: Gilles Guitarist: Lennart Drums: Ivo
 
Oathbreaker is an aggressive hardcore band at its heart, but they don't shy away of mixing punk, black metal, sludge and even crossover thrash into their sound. Mælstrøm hits you hard and hammers you with a dark and eerie atmosphere that's present at every point in every song, the slightly distorted guitar and haunting snare in the background do a great job to increase the impact this atmosphere has even more. The album was mixed by Kurt Ballou of Converge and mastered by Alan Douches (Converge) and these influences can clearly be heard as Mælstrøm shares a lot of similarities with Converge's "Axe To Fall". But don't get deceived into thinking it's nothing more than that, as you would be horribly wrong.
 
Throughout the album you will be accompanied by Caro's vicious, powerful but above all emotional voice that can either be heard in the form of a fast flurry of high shrieks, or low growls that bring the lyrics with much conviction and passion. At certain moments I'd even dare calling her a female –more comprehensible- version of Jacob Bannon. Her range might be a tad limited as her voice only goes to great heights or low lows with nearly no in between to be found, but even with that short coming she has a voice that would send many male vocalists home crying.
 
Instrumentally you're in for a tough ride, in a good way that is. This album starts out heavy and throws hook upon hook on you, tasteful and skillful playing combined with well composed song structures and interesting dynamics are sure to get you and keep you interested during this 31 minute during musical "Mælstrøm". Every song sounds unique and brings new ideas to the table while never giving in on quality. The bass is loud, the drum is really dynamic and the guitarist shows he can mix a lot of genres up in a single song.
 
The album opens up with "Origin" and from the first few seconds it's already clear this band is aiming at dark approach to the hardcore sound. And over the course of the next few songs they will give you a couple of goosebumps and send some chills running over your spine. And then it hits you, the final track, "Mælstrøm". Opposed to the rest of the album there is no screaming to be found here and we hear a side from not only Caro, but from the rest of the band too that we haven't heard during the album. This final song features an acoustic guitar but still maintains the dark atmosphere from the rest of the album, this song serves as a final trump card for those not already drawn into the album. As halfway through the vocals kick in and we hear a soft voice singing, with this Caro proves that she cannot only scream but sing as well, and above all it's also good. This song doesn't feels out of place at all and is without a doubt one of the better album endings in a very long time.
 
And then we reach the other side of the spectrum, the complaints. As good as this all can be some of the riffs aren't the most original and anyone who has heard a hardcore band before has heard some of them a lot of times before. Some might also be bothered by the pretty limited range provided by the vocalist because as good as her voice is, a single tone will always be a problem for some people. And even those who enjoy this album have something to complain about, more specifically the total playtime. 31 minutes for a full length album really isn't that much.
 
All in all this is a great release, it may have its flaws, but nothing is perfect. This is an that should be checked out by any fan of hardcore, as this is one album you will not want to miss.
 
-- Sputnik Music
item # 41255
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