Friday, 19 February 2021

Tribulation - Where the Gloom Becomes Sound (2021)

Country: Sweden
Style: Gothic Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 29 Jan 2021
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Not to be confused with the earlier thrash metal Tribulation from Surahammar, Sweden who released their only album in 1991, this Tribulation are from Arvika, three hours west, and they started out in a death metal that's gradually shifted to a gothic flavoured heavy metal. This is their fifth album, with the shift happening on their third, The Children of the Night, in 2015 which features Irma Vep rather than the expected Dracula in the cover art, I believe.

I really like the opener, In Remembrance, which is a moody, broody gothic rock epic adorned with the accessible harsh vocal of bass player Johannes Andersson. It's weightier than it is heavy, if that makes sense, the weight coming not from guitar riffs but a lush gothic texture that pervades the album. It's not denim and leather, it's heavy velvet, regardless how harsh that vocal gets. That only doubles when a song like Leviathans shows up, with playful guitars dancing above everything else. The most gothic piece here is Lethe, a concerto for piano and creaking oak. It isn't remotely heavy but it has weight to it like a curse. There's as much influence here from the Damned as Black Sabbath, if not more.

Plenty of names come to mind though. When Dirge of a Dying Soul begins, I thought Rainbow, as it's a doomy take on a classical piece of music I'm sure that I ought to recognise, though it moves more to Candlemass territory as the intro becomes the song. That's the only song with "dirge" in its name but it's not the only dirge, Inanna showing up later on. And that sits in between the two most traditional metal tracks, Daughter of the Djinn and Funeral Pyre, the latter of which especially screams Mercyful Fate, even without any falsettos. These are up tempo and lively but still dark and mysterious.

Much of this is immediate, which surprised me. There's a lot of musical territory in between Dirge of a Dying Soul and Funeral Pyre and that applies whether we're talking specifically about this album with pieces like Lethe or generally. Tribulation trawl a lot in, but they stamp their own brand onto it well enough that it all seems natural. Candlemass, the Damned and Mercyful Fate is a tasty combination. I could suggest that In Remembrance could sit on a Tim Burton soundtrack, if only he'd stop pandering to the mainstream public and grow some balls. There's a lot here.

However, some of it wasn't as immediate for me. There are ten songs here and, if half resonated from a first listen, the other half didn't. Some of them gelled the second time through, especially Hour of the Wolf, but others, such as Leviathans, continued to elude me. Parts of it got through, maybe, but not the whole song. This may not sound like me but perhaps it tries to do too much. I can't connect with Elementals, either, even though it sounds good. It just fades away for me in between the powerful Daughter of the Djinn and the arresting Inanna, though Inanna itself isn't Dirge of a Dying Soul.

So I should listen to this more, I think. For now, it's a good album. I just wonder whether how much of a better one it'll be when I'm fully acclimatised to Where the Gloom Becomes Sound.

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