Over the past few years, Tribulation has become one of my favorite bands. I first got hooked on 2015’s Children of the Night, and then The Down Below came out in 2018, and I was even more fully immersed in this foursome from Sweden.
Children of the Night marked a departure from the black-metal inspired earlier iteration of Tribulation, and this newest record takes the band even further away from their blackened roots. No blast beats and no tremolo here. That’s not to say though that this isn’t a positive about this new release, as it most certainly is quite dark, melancholy and gothic. Rather, Tribulation relies on atmosphere, instrumental and these little multiple pieces of sound that evoke somber sonic orientations when taken together. Recently departed guitarist Jonathan Hulten wrote most of this record and he went heavy on the melody and the affect.
Tribulation is at their best when they focus on the dueling rhythm guitars, and there’s plenty of that here, but not as much as the two previous records. Tracks like “Daughter of the Djinn” have some of that signature guitar sound, as does “Hour of the Wolf.” “Elementals” is a top cut on this new record as well and will easily be a fan favorite to hear live. Dueling guitar fans will not be disappointed.
Other songs rely less on guitars but still pack a great deal of emotion, such as the piano instrumental “Lethe.” “Inanna” is a slower track as well with some beautiful guitar tone and a vast array of layered instrumentation that moves Tribulation into some previously uncharted territory. “Funeral Pyre” also contains some big sounds and added orchestration in addition to some heavy riffage.
The record closes with a “The Wilderness,” perhaps Tribulation’s boldest track yet, with a bit of a gallop and groove, and some really epic leads that you’ll be dreaming about in your sleep at night. And just like their world famous live show, they leave you at the end of Where the Gloom Becomes Sound wanting more. I want more from Tribulation after hearing this record, like I always do with these vastly underrated Swedes. I can’t see to get enough Tribulation in my life.
After listening to this record a number of times, it has become apparent why guitarist and primary songwriter Hulten left Tribulation. Given Hulten’s recent solo work, it seems rather obvious that he’s venturing into softer and more mellow sonic scapes. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, Tribulation works best when they have those metal influences a bit more upfront. Let’s not forget that Johannes Andersson is the vocalist in this band and his raspy, dirty vocals are ultimately going to pair better with heavier, driving riffs as opposed to the softer palate Hulten seems to have moved towards. Needless to say, even with the apparent divergence in direction, the band produces another beyond solid record that will easily satisfy even the most ardent fan of this band. It might even be accessible enough to get some new fans on board as well.
Where the Gloom Becomes Sound is, without a doubt, a record you want to pre-order. I’ve listened to it so many times now myself and I just got it…And you can get it too, here on Metal Blade Records (out January 29th).