Record Reviews

Album review: Tribulation “Where the Gloom Becomes Sound”

Sweden’s Tribulation’s fifth studio album is beautifully gloomy, doomy and melancholic – and absolutely terrific!

Tribulation from Sweden is a terrific band that has been very hard to define in recent years. I saw them live here in Tokyo in 2015 when they were performing alongside several black metal bands. Sure, that worked well. But Tribulation is very different. They keep evolving and moving further away from conventional metal. The band formed in Arvika, Sweden in 2005 and was essentially a death metal band at that stage. By the time they released their third studio album, “The Children of the Night”, they had moved on, matured perhaps. In recent years, they have become more of a hybrid haze/goth/prog hard rock act with ever-present darkness and sadness to it. Bits and pieces of their music are still heavy metal and even death metal, but there is so much more here. Much of the music is heavy in a doomy kind of way, but not fast. Tribulation comes with plenty of depth and sorrow. The music and many of the lyrics are gloomy and melancholic. Perhaps it is something born out of the band’s roots in the mythical deep forests of rural Sweden, not far from the Norwegian border. The new album, very fittingly named “Where the Gloom Becomes Sound”, is the band’s fifth studio album. It kicks off with a terrific trio of songs – “In Remembrance” (which briefly starts with lyrics sung in Swedish before English takes over), “Hour of the Wolf” and “Leviathans” – and the listener just knows that this album is a solid one from such a strong opening. “Daughter of the Djinn” is an immediate favourite track with its drive and energy. “Funeral Pyre” is another standout track with its heavy metal guitars while the slow and sombre song “Dirge of a Dying Soul” is a magical piece of sadness. The band is not afraid of going outside of genre-imposed limits, something evident on the beautiful instrumental track “Lethe” which solely consists of a piano. Many of the songs on the album contain small details in the soundscape that makes the album one that the listeners discover new things on every time they listen to it. Following the completion of the recording of the album, guitarist Jonathan Hultén left the band he co-founded to focus on his solo career. He has been replaced by Joseph Tholl, who like the band’s other guitarist Adam Zaars has a background in the heavy metal band Enforcer. The two bands have shared several band members over the years, but musically they are very different. Tribulation’s current line-up also includes Johannes Andersson (bass, vocals – whose haunting voice keeps the link to the band’s death metal roots) and drummer Oscar Leander. The Japanese edition of the album comes with a bonus track in the form of a cool demo version of the fantastic track “Hour of the Wolf”.

Tribulation’s new album “Where the Gloom Becomes Sound” will be released on 29th January in Japan via Ward Records. A US edition will be released via Metal Blade Records and an international edition via Century Media Records.