Any band whose appreciation of music is broad enough to encompass the likes of Dissection, The Misfits, Iron Maiden, The Doors and Type O Negative is unlikely to be interested in recycling other people’s ideas. And as that list of inspirations suggests, Tribulation present to you a record that is both unapologetically ambitious and utterly distinct.
Emerging from the darkness of the Swedish death metal abyss in 2004, the band immediately stood apart from what was already a crowded scene, betraying an uncompromising vision that refused to be shackled by any genre stereotypes. Their exhilarating 2009 debut album The Horror somehow managed to simultaneously conjure the spirits of such old masters as Morbid Angel, while still sounding absolutely fresh, its combination of death metal with thrash, heavy metal and even horror soundtrack influences earning it praising reviews.
Their much awaited 2013 follow-up The Formulas of Death saw the band beginning to spread their wings further, its 75 minute playing time offering a more epic and colourful approach than its predecessor, the progressive touches resulting in an almost cinematic journey while displaying abundant aggression and occult overtones.
Yet even with such a glowing track record, new album The Children of the Night, which was recorded, mixed and produced by Ola Ersfjord in several different Swedish studio locations (Studio Gröndahl, Honk Palace, Studio Cobra, Necromantic
Studios and The Resting Stone) as well as mastered by Chris Common at Twin Hills Mastering in El Paso, Texas, is guaranteed to turn the heads of both newcomers and the initiated alike. Remarkably Swedish, the combination of foreboding death and black metal with vintage rock/metal as well as even dark wave influences sees the band offering nods to bands such as the aforementioned, while nonetheless always refusing to fall into mere mimicry. With a willful drive, an irresistible groove, bewitching melodies and a haunting atmosphere, The Children of the Night captures a true sense of drama and heaviness despite the strangely accessible nature of its compositions.
“You shouldn’t expect an album filled with blastbeats and double pedals,” the band warn. “This record is more back-to-basics, more streamlined but at the same time it sees some of our most strange stuff to date. It’s a big album – dark and atmospheric – and is without a doubt a step in our very own direction and our best work so far.”
It’s hard to argue with that sentiment; songs such as ‘Strains of Horror’ and ‘In The Dreams of the Dead’ offer an unforgettable taste of darkness, but are also utterly invigorating and addictive – quite literally; if you don’t find yourself humming at least some of the catchy riffs on here then there might just be something wrong with you. But it’s not about just relying on catchiness – there’s an impressively considered ebb and flow to these compositions, the eerie organs and introspective guitar breaks balanced by passages of furious riffing and stirring choruses.
“Most of our lyrics are about the experience of transcending the mundane world as we know it,” the band explain. “They are about approaching the divine, or whatever you choose to call it, and how you go about doing that. Tribulation will always be about both horror and religion / spirituality, with a ‘necromantic’ take on everything…we touch on things in the outskirts of it all, in the periphery.”
Just as importantly, Tribulation always touch the emotions of the listener. At a time when the metal enthusiast is faced with a constant stream of releases, this album stands alone; to listen to it is to be swept up in its grandeur and majesty.