When The Gloom Steals Your Heart: The Return of Tribulation
Tribulation is a band extremely comfortable with who they are. They ride in this nether region where they’re a little too Death Metal for the mainstream, and a little too Gothic for a lot of Death fans. But man, are they great at it. The guitars, the melodies, the gruff and blackened vocals, the majestic music they make is unlike others and, even though at times it can feel a bit samey, they deserve a great following. Their newest album, Where the Gloom Becomes the Sound, is yet another example of just how amazing they are, and how truly worthy of your time and ears they can be.
They open with an epic piece, “In Remembrance,” that rides an understated pace to glorious heights. It is a song that sort of creeps in, moody and melodic in that dark, Gothic way, and slowly builds itself into a sort of monstrous, melancholic elegy, done with melodious riffs and guitar runs and rumbling drums and those unmistakable vocals. There’s something about that harsh rasp that works here, grating against the fragile beauty of the music and the lyrics. This is the case with all their songs, though, that interplay between the vocals and the music. In any case, this old man enjoyed the nod in the middle of the song to the old Ozzy number, “Waiting For Darkness,” whether it was intentional or not. This one slides right into follow-up song “Hour of the Wolf” that simply rocks out, those licks climbing your spine like an infected spider, injecting its webs of glorious melodic poison directly into your nerve endings. Catchy as hell and yet it rolls right along, heavy as you please. Most of the songs on this new album are like this; Tribulation seems to be delving deeper into the shadows on this record, dipping into the Goth even more and yet, still keeping it just as heavy as ever. There are slower songs, as well, the band embracing a bit of the Doom aesthetic to great effect. This gives songs that might feel a little too light and frilly some added heft. “Dirge of a Dying Soul” is a great example of this more Doom-laden sound. It isn’t quite ponderous, but it does stomp along, clutching a thatch of black roses in its pale, undead fingers. But all is not slow and ponderous, as songs like “Daughter of the Djinn” display. This one would sit comfortably on any NWOBHM release. It rips right along, twin guitars pushing this one forward with zest and vibrant life. And then there’s “Funeral Pyre,” which comes nearly at the end of the album, a throwback to their heavier, earlier records. They again somehow keep it massive and yet appealing to the ears. They never, ever forget the hooks, and that’s been a trait of this band since day one. Closer “Wilderness” is another one of those big songs, kind of sprawling and wide and amazing, all somehow in just over six minutes length. It is such a great way to end the record and feels like a callback to the opening number, if more lofty and less mournful. And man, those solos, and the dips and valleys in the pacing—the light and shade, as Jimmy Page called it—all exceptional. A fine ending to a fine album.
If you’re already a Tribulation fan, you know what you’re going to get. Much like Motorhead or Slayer or AC/DC (although they have almost nothing in common with those bands), you’re getting more of the same, a band who knows its sound and is further refining and broadening it. This one is just as good as their others, which is really saying a lot. If you’re a first-time listener, or just curious, dig in. I think you’ll find a lot to love here. Fans of Goth Rock will dig this, although it may be a bit too caustic for their ears at times. Trust me, you’ll get used to it and learn to love it. This is a great way to start the new year.
Four Bucket of Blood out of Four
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Kelly is the author of dozens of stories and dozens of reviews. He likes to write, he likes to read, he likes going to the movies, and he loves to laugh. He hails from the wilds of Kentucky and if you'd like to see more of his work, check out his website: