January 28, 2021 Tribulation – Where the Gloom Becomes Sound (Album Review)
Hailing from the icy realm of Sweden, Tribulation has built a solid following over four albums and across sixteen years of relentless touring. Beginning life as a Death Metal band, the nuances of their songwriting and their penchant for horror always promised that there would be so much more to offer. On Friday, January 29, 2021, Tribulation seeks to deliver further on that promise with fifth full-length album Where the Gloom Becomes Sound, available via Metal Blade Records.
The group, consisting of bassist/vocalist Johannes Andersen, Guitarists Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hulten, and Drummer Oscar Leander, have always incorporated occult and horror elements into their music. Beginning on 2015’s The Children of the Night, they began to streamline their sound from filthy Death Metal into an elegant and eldritch spell-book of NWOBHM- inspired Metal. This continued on 2018’s Down Below, and on latest offering Where The Gloom Becomes Sound, their journey away from the blackened Metal trappings of yore continues. Andersen’s uniquely raspy yet enunciated growls ensure that Tribulation will always reside on the subterranean side of the gravesite when it comes to the line between traditional Metal and Death Metal.
Writing what boils down to simpler, catchier Rock-n-Roll tunes of a more straightforward nature is exceedingly difficult. Other bands who emerged from technical Death Metal roots, such as Sentenced (FIN), experienced the ups and downs of these compositional challenges as they moved to a more ‘goth’ style overall sound. Up-tempo banger “Daughter of the Djinn” shows that Hulten and company are up for the task, while still providing for some alchemical bliss in the form of psychedelic lead breaks a little over midway through, before a mesmerizing set of solos takes this album highlight to its conclusion.
Massively dreamy guitar playing is a staple of the album, as the leads on “Elementals” display so passionately. The driving vocal lines combine to make this one a seamless highlight as well. Like a swirling, slow cauldron, the ritualistic groove of “Inanna” adds to what is a fantastic back half to the album. “Funeral Pyre” ups the NWOBHM ante, marrying those rabid vocals with magnificent leads and harmonies and creepy acoustics. Concluding with “The Wilderness,” a song that had it featured clean vocals would bear resemblance to something Iron Maiden would compose in the 1980’s, the listener has no choice but to feel riveted right through to the end.
The strength of Where the Gloom Becomes Sound does not lie completely in the back half. “Leviathans” brings a Biblical lick of evil to a strong set of riffs and a clarion tritone lead, breaking down into another psychedelic realm with spoken word and a nice build-up in tension. This isn’t a pit-inducing sound, as Tribulation hasn’t been about making music to slam bodies to – that being said it is no less engaging. The twin guitar harmonies in the song are like a heartbeat and you won’t want it to end. Lead single “Hour of the Wolf” feels like a new beginning, a manifesto about dark magic and the attendant spirits of the underworld. Right in Tribulation’s wheelhouse, it’s a foreboding anthem that is nonetheless catchy and upbeat. This juxtaposition is something Tribulation is very good at capturing, not unlike genre-progenitors Black Sabbath were in their heyday.
Tribulation is a deadly serious-minded young band, one who’s graceful harmonies and passion for making excellent Heavy Metal music is only growing more evident. The formula by which they write their music has now seen them make three dominant albums in their current vein, and when the results are this natural and impressive there is no need to worry about repetition. For this reason, Cryptic Rock gives Where the Gloom Becomes Sound 4.5 out of 5 stars.