Tribulation, who come to us from Sweden, play an interesting mix of genres; they are equal parts death metal, gothic, and black metal. The mix may seem unusual to the average listener of any of those three genres, but to those of us with open minds, and ears, this is a truly magnificent blend; one that breaks down the barriers of tradition, and is wholly satisfying. On January 26th Tribulation will release their newest album, in conjunction with Century Media Records, and that album is called Down Below.
At first listen I found myself entranced by the utterly foreign mix of styles. I had read that this was death metal, but it is unlike any death metal I have ever heard. The tempos are considerably slower than the standard death metal fare, and the Gothic elements add such a unique quality to these songs. The first track I had listened to is called “The Lament”, and it is a great representation of what this album is going to unleash upon your ears. This track opens up with a beautiful, very subdued clean guitar part, and immediately grabbed my attention. Once the distorted riff comes in there is a feeling of familiarity, almost a post-hardcore type of sound; then the vocals hit, and they are a perfect mix of death metal and black metal. The music remains rooted in that post-hardcore sound and the guitar parts are interesting throughout. During the mid-section that guitar part is doubled by the keyboards, and has an eighth note chug over the top of both; this is a wonderfully written section, keeping me deep within its loving arms.
“Subterranea” opens with a beautifully played piano section, which is doubled by a palm muted clean guitar part. Once the full band comes in there are obvious moments of gothic brilliance with heavy guitars. The verse parts are layered with some flanger laden guitar, and the venomous vocals of Johannes Andersson. I love the mix of light and dark that Tribulation is able to capture here, and throughout the entire album really; that blend makes the dark even darker, and vice versa.
“Purgatorio” has a haunting, yet stunningly beautiful, aspect to it. I love their use of clean guitars, and music box sounding keyboards; they add an element of child-like wonder to this track, mixed with the haunting elements of horror films. This is a great way to break up the album, as it is used as an interlude of sorts.
“The World” opens up with some toy piano tones, and then a massive guitar part, a wall of sound with layered guitars that sound phenomenal. The tempo isn’t fast, yet the aura of heaviness surrounds this track. Sometimes, through the gothic overtones, and the heavy riffs, you can hear an almost U2-like quality to the way the guitars are being played. The cool thing about this track is the amount of space left open, even with the huge guitar parts; the space is left there, making the track almost ethereal.
Down Below, from Tribulation is a fantastic album from start to finish. The blend of genres, the way the songs are written, and the evil sounding vocals all make for a terrific album. I highly urge you all to give these guys a chance, and I think you will be pleasantly surprised by how much you will get into this release!!!!!!
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- Tom Hanno