Themes of darkness and the unknown have permeated the rock community since its first rumblings. Whether that was Black Sabbath singing about the figure in black, through to Norway’s Satanic Black Metallers or gothic visuals being extensively used with Paradise Lost, Cradle of Filth or Atrocity.
As with life itself, the old is replaced with the new, as so will it be with music.
Enter Swedish trope `Tribulation` Who endeavor to capture the feel of both black metal and Gothic romance in one package, which certainly is a hard task, balancing the brutality of the instruments with the romantic nature of Gothic subjects but does it hold true on new album `Down Below’?
Beginning with one major point, Tribulation hasn’t exactly appeared too much on my radar, well specifically until this album, so they haven’t yet been able to leave an indelible mark on the psyche.
Well what can I say; on first run through this is not what I expected at all. The look of the band absolutely screams demonic black metal, yet the band exhibit far more than traditional Black Metal may offer.
Tribulation appear to be a unique blend of black metal vocals with almost Iron Maiden inspired guitar passages and hints of 70’s rock utilizing piano, keyboard and all other manner of uniquely inspired instruments to create something truly special. Think Iron Maiden meets Cradle of Filth with a helping of Ghost.
The album opener `The Lament`, which again with the look of Black Metallers might baffle you with the use of clean guitar passages that ring through with clarity, definitely Metallica or Iron Maiden inspired. The song as a whole really is setting up for the album as a whole, black metal inspired vocals that push through the distorted guitars yet it’s not just relentless noise, there’s a tonne of melody in there. There’s also clever use of keyboards in the song, the band are trying to evoke the gothic and it’s done with magnificent exertion. The keyboard section has a definite nod towards Billy Idol’s famous song `White Wedding`.
The album is also interwoven with a couple of instrumentals in particular `Purgatorio`, this really sets the mood of the band’s concepts and lyrical ideas. It’s very much along the lines of an eerie Gothic tune that would fit in so well as part of a Danny Elfman score for Tim Burton or as a haunting score for a grandiose Gothic inspired horror movie.
The track `The World’ pretty much sums up the band’s ethos of not going overboard with particular elements. For example, the use of Keyboards, the guitar solo are all very melodic and resemble more classic rock or prog from the 70’s, which certainly helps give the songs a huge composing dynamic rather than just slapping bits together. Tribulation, do not seem to just shove any old shit into a song, it all seems laid out and precise but without sounding robotic and sloppy.
The album as a whole cleverly adds so many different genres into the mix, although to the untrained hand, this could have turned into a complete mess yet Tribulation have created what in my opinion could be a timeless album, a seminal one with their catalog that should really be Tribulation’s stepping stone into the limelight.
The only real issue, if it even is an issue, is the ability to really pick out stand out songs from the entire album of sheer brilliance.
`Down Below` is a fantastic mix of sub-genres within the metal and gothic worlds, it treads that line so perfectly. It feels like they have constructed the songs in such a way that if it were done by lesser musicians the songs would have sounded messy. Yet, each is composed with exactly the right amount of thought and notes.
9.5/10 – Part Goth, Part Black Metal - Superb as the whole!
Stand out tracks:
`The Lament`, `Purgatorio’ and `Here Be Dragons’
1. The Lament
3. Lady Death
6. Cries From The Underworld
8. The World
9. Here Be Dragons