of the night
wingless into the night,
redefine modern death metal
dB Rating: 9/10
Release Date: April 20, 2015
Label: Century Media
Nothing really prepares you for Tribulation. The Swedes are carrion hands reaching out of death metal's long-dormant grave. Tribulation are neither black nor death, however. They reside in the shadows, between clasps of coffins; the rustling of leaves on a cold autumn night. This all sounds like grandstanding, fevered exaggeration of a band on the cusp of greatness. It's not.
Simply put, this band thinks differently. They've absorbed the tenets and aesthetics of extreme metal with fevered abandon, and come out the other side changed. How else is the transformation between The Horror’s abject cruelty and The Formulas of Death’s curious expanse explainable? It’s not like they – or peers Morbus Chron and Necrovation – have a prefab template from which to build. So beings The Children of the Night.
The James Bernard-inspired intro to “Strange Gateways Beckon” is merely an indication of where Tribulation’s heads are at. When the organ motif plays into Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hultén’s full-bodied strums, the complementary clean pick work and Jakob Ljungberg’s drum fills are of a band inspired. “Melancholia” is altogether different, a mélange of classical understanding and garage rock. It’s head-splittingly catchy, yet retains enough darkness to be believable. “In the Dreams of the Dead” is a welcome homage to Dissection’s (anti) cosmic restraint. Although by the time it ends, it’s less like Reinkaos and more like Opeth’s wild Orchid-era twists. “Winds,” likewise is informed by an early ‘90s great. The intro is no-holds-barred Unanimated it the Swedes had a hunger for Moog and Hammer Horror sensibilities. The funeral pace to “Själaflykt” belies the fact that it grows into another absurdly memorable instrumental jam, with the specter of Pete Bardens appearing in unlikely spots throughout.
If The Children of the Night has a center point, it’s “The Motherhood of God.” The song is, at heart, a rocker, with nods to Iron Maiden and Rush. “Strains of Horror” feels like an endcap, a song fitting for a finale. The guitar solo is fucking resplendent in its timing, while the organ mourns of the pre-chrysalis state. The record could probably produce multiple “singles,” but none are as triumphant as “Holy Libations.” The riffs are elementary, but the refrain difficult to forget. The way Johannes Andersson croaks through his words makes it feel as it we’re privy to ritualistic practices from places forgotten.
There are few bands as deep and wide as Tribulation. There are few bands who comprehend the genres of death and lack metal like the Swedes. There are few bands who are capable of Children of the Night. All hail Tribulation! The Year of the Goat is yours! Make it so.
- Chris Dick
Review originally printed in the May 2015 issue (#127).