ALBUM REVIEW: Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound

Release Date: January 29th 2021
Label: Century Media Records
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Since their debut in 2009, Swedish depth-dwellers Tribulation have done their utmost to expand and mutate what initially could have been regarded as standard blackened death metal fare.

An ever-increasing focus on melody has seen the band hone in on a form death ‘n’ roll goth-rock, with 2015’s ‘The Children Of The Night’ and 2018’s acclaimed ‘Down Below’ showcasing a signature blend of grim, harmonic soundscapes and macabre theatrics.

‘Where The Gloom Becomes Sound’, their fifth full-length, is easily the most grandiose spectacle yet, functioning as both a menacing and strangely appealing foray into ethereal darkness. Gloom couldn’t be a more appropriate term in fact, as an audible fog of a grey hue seems to engulf the entire sonic proceedings.

With lyrics that tick off the list of essentials, that include mentions of all things “primordial”, “subterranean”, “depths of the abyss”, and “leviathans”, it’d be easy to dismiss the straight-faced devotion Tribulation pay to their craft, but what’s so effective and ultimately elevates the group from so many toothless contemporaries is the poetic scripture-style manner with which they’re delivered by vocalist/bassist, Johannes Andersson.

At times, it sounds like wandering into the very wrong sort of mass to hear a Lovecraftian sermon of the most heinous variety. ‘Dirge Of A Dying Soul’ proves to be a potent example, as Andersson‘s malodorous delivery is uniquely clear and intelligible, while dour piano twinkles beneath the duelling guitar lines. The accompanying bells make for some accentuated gothic revelry.

Speaking of tones, guitarists Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hultén both turn in impressively nuanced performances, opting for subtlety and atmosphere over showmanship, although some virtuosic leads do arise like those found on the Van Halen-esque shredfest at the back-end of ‘Daughter Of The Djinn’. The constant duelling nature, which simultaneously propels the rhythmic core of the tracks, has a decidedly classic glimmer, hearkening back to the likes of Venom.

Sadly, this is Hultén‘s last project with the group as he announced his departure last year. With the new addition of longtime affiliate Joseph Tholl, Tribulation‘s creative path could be in for a major shift owing to such a line-up change. ‘Where The Gloom Becomes Sound’ ultimately serves as the final work from the group in this incarnation, and is not only a malevolent triumph for the band and genre alike, but easily a strong bar-raiser for metal albums throughout the remainder of 2021.