LIVE: Oathbreaker / Syndrome / Coilguns @ Scala, London

By Liam Knowles

If there is a rule that support bands should “behave themselves” at other bands’ shows then no one told openers Coilguns, as it takes literally seconds from starting their set for vocalist Louis Jucker to hurl himself on top of the unsuspecting, yet receptive, audience. The steadily-growing Scala crowd lap up the abrasive and chaotic hardcore that Coilguns project at full volume, and are fully captivated by the time Jucker is climbing the sound desk, at the fury of the venue security.

Watching main support Syndrome could not be any further from watching Coilguns lay waste to the venue. The solo project of Amenra’s Mathieu Vanderckhove, Syndrome is all about looping and layering guitar lines and vocals, building up to huge walls of sound. This eerie cacophony, combined with the haunting images projected on the wall behind him, makes for a truly immersive experience.

The tension in the crowd reaches feverish levels as Oathbreaker take to the stage and explode into ‘Being Able To Feel Nothing’. There are so many words to describe the way that Oathbreaker sound but they pretty much all mean ‘big’, and tonight that sound fills absolutely every inch of this venue. Caro Tanghe’s flawless transitions between her lingering clean vocals and her shrill, harrowing screams sit perfectly atop the epic barrage created by her band, who execute every track with pin-point precision. The set is almost entirely made up of songs from 2016’s incredible ‘Rheia’ but we are treated to fan favourite ‘The Abyss Looks Into Me’ from 2013’s ‘Eros|Anteros’ which transforms the crowd into a flailing mass of limbs. Acoustic(ish) number ‘Stay Here/Accroche-Moi’ is also a welcome surprise, breaking up an otherwise relentless set.

Oathbreaker close proceedings with the combo of ‘10:56’ and ‘Second Son of R’, which ends in what feels like an exorcism as Tanghe exhausts every last bit of her energy into those tortured, shapeless screams. It’s incredibly cathartic to watch but also bittersweet, and with this being Oathbreaker’s last UK show before some “time off to focus on life and staying sane”, we’re left wondering if this will be the last time we’ll feel the things that only this truly unique and special band can make us feel. It would be an absolute crime for that to be the case, but only the individuals that make up Oathbreaker can make that decision. In the meantime, we’re left with an exquisite back catalogue and the memory of tonight’s truly exceptional live performance.