11066516_903783812997709_2536605566704010814_nAlthough they began as progenitors of fuzzed-out Entombed-style death metal, Sweden’s Tribulation has been on a trajectory towards smarter, more structured music since their second record, 2013’s The Formulas of Death. Their latest album boasts the Dio-worthy title The Children Of The Night, and it’s their first release for metal powerhouse Century Media.

The album begins with “Strange Gateways Beckon,” sporting a delicate church organ intro before gradually building into a more anthemic, structured song. The tempo kicks up a notch for the vaguely death n’ roll (I hate that term) “Melancholia.” This gives way to the showstopper track “In the Dreams of the Dead,” which boasts a thrashy, vaguely Immortal-esque riff and some of the biggest hooks on the album.

Longtime fans looking for signs of Tribulation‘s death metal past will find little of it here. Children‘s sonic qualities are decidedly retro, with low-gain guitars and almost garage-y sounding drums. The overall blend is slightly weird at first, but once the ears adjust, the sound feels comfortably vintage. The interplay between guitarists Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hultén is intricate and melodic, recalling some of metal’s great 6-string duos of yesteryear. Bassist/frontman Johannes Andersson’s harsh growl remains intact, one of the few remaining links to the band’s roots.

If all of this talk of vintage tones and organs and whatnot sounds familiar, then let me say it before you think it: Yes, it’s kind of the same idea as Ghost. Minus the masks and the whole Satan thing, of course. A more apt comparison is In Solitude‘s fantastic (and final) album Sister, and I suspect that the Tribulation guys spent some time studying that record closely. Whatever prompted this latest stylistic shift, the ends more than justify the means.

10405480_837370356305722_2128751623683405342_nThe surprises continue with six minute instrumental “Själaflykt,” which starts off metal enough but somehow mutates into a grim take on surf rock, complete with twangy guitar and cheesy ’60s organ. “Själaflykt” is one of two instrumentals on the record, the other being the Tim Burton-worthy “Cauda Pavonis.” Another highlight is “The Motherhood of God,” built upon a jangly, gothic guitar riff and hinting at an alternate reality where Sisters of Mercy have death metal vocals.

If I had one complaint about Children of the Night, it would be that it’s way too fucking long. At ten tracks over 57 minutes, it is in clear violation of AMG’s 45 Minute Rule®, and perfectly demonstrates why such a rule exists. This album does not need two instrumentals, and not every song needs to be six and a half minutes long. The cluster of lengthy, slightly weaker tracks towards the end really kills the momentum as well. Children would be absolutely deadly at seven or eight tracks, the remaining material would make for a kick-ass EP.

Children Of The Night is a massive leap forward musically for Tribulation. Yes, they’re taking some influence from In Solitude and possibly Ghost, but at least they were able to use those bands as a launching point for their own evolution. It’s pretty rare that I hear a metal record with this level of songwriting and depth, and the first half of this record is particularly well done. In an era where Swedish-style death metal has reached saturation point, it’s hard to stand apart from the pack, but Tribulation has achieved just that.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Century Media
Websites: Facebook.com/Tribulation
Release Dates: EU: 2015.04.20 | NA: 04.21.2015

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  • They look like retro-faggots but I hope the album is good.

    • Martin Knap

      are you a retro homophobe?

      • I may have flagged the above comment by accident. Apologies.

  • I listened to the two streaming tracks and enjoyed them a great deal (I’m more a fan of the first album eh) but I was hoping this would be a more compact album after The Formulas of Death. Bugger.

  • Christian Monroe

    Got my preorder in, really looking forward to this. I love both of the (very different) earlier albums. Speaking of a Ghost influence, I’ve often heard that one of the guitarists is actually in that band too.

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      Intriguing…and it would certainly explain a lot.

      • Shaun Reichardt

        Adam Zarrs is in Repugnant, with Tobias Forge (Papa Emeritus), but he’s not in Ghost. Look at how skinny he is vs anyone in Ghost.

        They’re basically Subvision with a few extra members.

    • Shaun Reichardt

      Adam Zarrs is in Repugnant, with Tobias Forge (Papa Emerdingus), but he’s not in Ghost. Look at how skinny he is vs anyone else.

      They’re basically Subvision with a few extra members.

  • André Snyde Lopes

    Definitely intrigued. Formulas was my favorite release from 2013 and that was 75+ minutes long. As a big proponent of shorter records I have to say I enjoyed every second of it and cutting anything off would be criminal, especially the 3 instrumentals which add so much in terms of creepiness and the overall surreal atmosphere of the whole thing.

  • Diabolus_in_Muzaka

    Shame about the length. Once you get to a point where you find yourself wanting the album to wrap itself up and it keeps on going, it hurts the music overall and makes the idea of listening to it full seem more tedious than desirable. Seems that point was reached here to some degree. Glad it was still a very good listen, excited to hear this. Great review.

    • I know around here it’s an unpopular opinion but this happen to me with the *really* Never Ending Way of the ORWarriOR. Abouth the fifth time they started again with the “OOOoooOOOOooooOOOOOOO”-ing I was ready to call it quits.

  • Tom Hardy

    Having parameters or rules on what the length of an album should be in context of what is acceptable is simply imprudent. What a clumsy limitation to put on artistic ability. If the album requires it, it’s essential. What about Morbid Angel’s FFTTF or Gorguts’ Obscura, Colored Sands or Ulcerate’s EIF or Emperor’s ITNE … I can name a lot more than just that.

    Now coming to Tribulation, I’m a fan of their demo and EP. Horror was a bit too polished and a big let down. They’ve continue that trend with the next two albums. Listening to the preview above, a boring track such as that can be attributed to a low rating (lower if I was you) and anything boring does, as a result, make albums sound a lot longer much like a boring professors lecture. This is one lecture I’d bunk.

    • It’s more of a suggested guideline.

      • Tom Hardy

        While that me be the case, mentioning it has certainly created an impression on our young readers minds if you review the comments thus far. And not in a positive way, if I may be so kind to point.

        By the way Mr. Druhm, your reviews are a pleasure to read. Thank you.

        • Thanks for the kind words. Most of the staff here do tend to feel albums are best left on the short side, but naturally there will be exceptions and some long albums are brilliant. As a general rule though, longer doesn’t equate to better and I’ve seen my share of albums that wear on the listener by running 10-15 minutes past their Sell By date.

          • Thatguy

            I’ve always had a short attention span and too many albums are great to start with then fade – I do agree around 45 minutes is usually about right. Of course there will be exceptions to this rule

            Great review and I like the sound of this

    • Fisting_Andrew_Golota

      I’m sorry, did you just imply “Formulas Fatal to the Flesh” was somehow not bloated or longer than necessary?!

      Seriously though: Yeah, there’s always exceptions. But if I’m listening to an album, and after 45 minutes I’m bored, then that album is not one of those exceptions.

      • This comment needs more upvotes for real.

        In The Nightside Eclipse is the shortest of those examples and is all killer and no filler, which cannot be said of some of those other examples (especially FFttF).

        • Here’s Johnny

          FFttF ruled from beginning to end.

      • Tom Hardy

        Bloated? Not to me. Those last few ambient songs are a nice way to end the album. It works for me, I wouldn’t hold you against anything if you didn’t feel the same. The point of my post was that a 45 + or under album doesn’t necessarily equate to bad or good, respectively. Not a lot of people take notice to it but the first 4 Metallica albums are 45+ each.

        Part of what you mention in your second paragraph echoes what I said anyway.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      The longer an album goes on, its flaws always become more apparent, the weaker songs begin to really detract from the overall enjoyment of the work.
      I don’t think its about rules, but it’s definitely a factor that affects how and when you listen to an album and also your enjoyment.

      IMO Unless your Metallica making a Master of Puppets (@54min relatively short by todays standards) or an Opeth making Ghost Reveries…Bands should avoid throwing everything and the kitchen sink at their fans.
      I love a lot of long running / double albums but these days so many (good) albums run and feel long. I think its less to do with creative vision and more to do with artists being both unrestricted by medium and unable/willing to be critical of their own work.

      Classics of the genre didn’t need to go on and on to be powerful works of art.
      Blessed are the sick 38mins / Ride the Lightning 48min / Paranoid 43min / Seasons in the Abyss 45 mins / SSoaSS 45min

  • Óðhinn

    I’m definitely interested in this. Tribulation’s first two albums were killer.

  • Wilhelm

    Sounds awesome! I like the more occult goth sound they are going for, besides which, we already have enough Entombeds

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I just re read this (good review BTW) and the truth of the ‘final in solitude album’ line just sunk in…:(
    No no no no NO, In Solitude can’t break up their next record was going to be the best thing since thumbscrews…I’ve been patiently awaiting its announcement, not happy.

    • I felt the same way with ISIS and Ludicra

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Yeah me too! I read an interview with King Buzzo on the Onions AV Club site, where he was asked to list bands that he thought had ‘blown it’…He had Isis on the list and this to say.
        “Then they decided it was time to completely break up, which is totally and completely ridiculous. After all that work, to take a band that has never been better—live or on record—and break up, that’s the reason they’re on this list. They blew it. They were better than ever, and they blew it.”

        With out really knowing why In Solitude broke up you could say the same for In Solitude :(

      • Óðhinn

        Ludicra, great band.

        I was a fan of ISIS until they decided to take over Iraq. ;)

        I know, I know. Bad joke. Could not resist.

  • Greg Hasbrouck

    I’m really curious to hear this. One of the lads over on The Black Market absolutely gushed over it, saying among other things, “…at some 57 minutes, and there is not a wasted second.”

  • Here’s Johnny

    That song “In the dreams…” was boring as hell. Only heard one album from them ‘The Horror’, which is great. Sounds like they have took all the balls/energy out the music if that new song is anything to go by.

  • hardysponge

    This is certainly one of my faves of the year so far. Great mix of Classic, Death, Goth and other Metal, even spiced up with Prog and 70s Rock. Some great buried melodies, what is not to like?

  • Albert

    Angry Metal Guy’s taste sucks!
    Examples: Pale Communion 5/5, In Times 2.5/5, Below the Hengiform 2.5/5, Negura’s Tau 3/5, Beware the Sword You Cannot See 3.5/5, Below the Sun’s Envoy 2/5, Melana Chasmata 4.5/5…. Not to mention how the favourites of the year and month are always terrible (Soen, Darkest Era, Angra, etc)…

    What the fuck is that shit about the best French black metal being made in NY? (I read that in another review)
    Some things are able to be discussed, depending on personal taste. But Angry Metal Guy’s taste is so shitty… that´s not questionable.

    Man, really. Find something else to do if possible instead of writing all your awful reviews, and getting people confused.

    • Who let the trolls in? Who? Who? Who?

      • Albert

        Hahah, a troll in da house. No man, really. I´m not that, just gave my silly opinion as anyone else. Negative opinions make trolls I guess. But I normally don´t do this, today I felt like it. By they way, this album is fantastic!

    • Alternatively, deal with the fact that other people’s tastes might not match your own and find a different review site if you disagree so strongly with the opinions of the writers here?

      • Albert

        You are right. My mistake but… aaaah! the latest Opeth’s a perfect score! You see that? Say I´m a troll but one which is right.

  • 3.5 is a low mark. This is some of the most interesting shit to come out yet this year. Very, very good stuff!

  • Matthew

    “The cluster of lengthy, slightly weaker tracks towards the end really kills the momentum as well. Children would be absolutely deadly at seven or eight tracks, the remaining material would make for a kick-ass EP.”

    Perfectly sums up my only reserves about this album, they should have ended it after the eighth track and, as you said, restructured the rest as an EP. ‘Cauda Pavonis’ could have been a strong opening to an EP like that.

  • I must say that I’ve spent much more time than I thought I would with this record by now. I’ve enjoyed much more than anything put out by Ghost and dare I say it’s even a bit more entertaining than In Solitude’s Sister. I don’t even mind the length. I think it’s growing into a year’s end contender for me.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      Noooooo, Sister is a masterpiece :)
      I must say I have warmed tooth’s one a bit not sure that its a RotM tho…

      • Sister was definitely great, but I have felt more compelled to replay this than Sister

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          I have gone back to this more than I thought I would after my first listen … I listen to Sister all the time it’s so catchy theres not a song on that record I don’t love.

          OK I’m doing the taste test now. Making a playlist featuring Sister / The Children of the night / Out of the Garden and Melana Chasmata.

          Set to shuffle we’ll see how it sits in some pretty esteemed company.

        • Carlos Marrickvillian

          Reporting back that this record has really grown on me now…Also that playlist below is a killer those 4 albums work really well together on shuffle!

  • swthate

    I’m guessing I’m just not sophisticated enough, but so far after a NUMBER of sessions with this album, the length doesn’t bother me at all. Even the instrumentals don’t bother me.

    Never heard of these guys before: came for the art, stayed for the music!

  • Patrick W. Dunne

    I recognize that cover. It’s from a movie called Les Vampires