Tribulation, who hail from Arvika, Sweden, return to the music scene on January 26th with their first full length album since 2015’s Children of the Night. The first thing I noticed is that Down Below is a bit heavier and darker than the previous release. As with most metal in this genre, it makes me think of late night in Winter, but this release feels like a late night Winter snowstorm, being forced through the air by unseen spirits. The new drummer, Oscar Leander, has no problem taking the rhythm to the next level with the bass of vocalist Johannes Andersson. The harmonious guitars of Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hulten speak a sultry chaos into the songs, as if both are possessed by the same entity. The resulting 9-song release is beautifully orchestrated, and long overdue.
The Lament sets the stage for the rest of the album, with its hard hitting prog groove. Andersson’s vocals punctuate the music with the same growl and hiss that we’ve heard in previous releases, but with something extra. Perhaps, the confidence that comes with knowing you’ve put out your best work yet. Nightbound is just as impressive, and the perfect song to follow The Lament. Lady Death is a bit of an uptempo track, right before blasting into Subterranea, which pulls you back down into the heart of the storm. Purgatorio is the only instrumental on the album, and it’s executed perfectly. It reminds me of a song that should be featured in a Henry Selick movie (Coraline comes to mind). Cries from the Underworld is another uptempo track that feels like it’s ending around the 3 minute mark, but then you softly hear guitars, and then the full band kicks in for another round. Lacrimosa is one of my favorite songs, because of how intricate every single part of it is. I’ve listened to it several times and I always hear something I didn’t hear before. The World is a darker track, and the standout component to me is the drumming. Leander’s powerful beats continue in the final track, Here Be Dragons, with the guitar intro giving way to a haunting piano. There’s a point towards the end of the song where the drums again take the lead, the guitars creeping in slowly, and then as if shot from a cannon, the guitars roar to the foreground. The entire album is enchanting. Impressive in its execution, and delivers exactly what they intended – powerful music.
If you’re already a fan of Tribulation, you’ll enjoy this album. If you’ve never heard of them before but like metal, you’ll enjoy this album. If you need a reference point for this release, think a little Opeth mixed with Behemoth, and bled into At the Gates. To be quite frank, it fucking rocks.
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