Tribunal – The Weight of Remembrance Review

The new year brings a fresh fervor to search out and seize interesting things from the ghastly promo sump. Having heard a bit of low-level buzz surrounding the debut by Vancouver-based gothic doom act Tribunal, I was interested to see what the fuss might be about.1 The promo sheet name drops My Dying Bride and boasts the presence of a classically trained cellist, and so I dove into The Weight of Remembrance hoping for something a bit more interesting than a MDB clone. And boy did I hit the goddamn motherload! The work of a talented duo, this is a top-notch slab of emotive, weighty, and well-crafted metal walking the line between the doom-death and gothic regions with strong funerary influences making things extra heavy and dark. It’s like a wonderous marriage of Candlemass, Draconian and occult doom acts like Castle and Jex Thoth, and it packs a massive punch in the feelz. Loathe as I am to hand out high marks so early in a new year, this thing just kept clawing its way deeper and deeper into my cursed soul. And now I’m going to unleash it on yours.

Things open with the Candlemassive “Initiation” where the duo lay their tarot cards on the table. Enormous doom riffs flatten your senses with a regal and elegant heaviness ripped straight off Epicus Doomicus Metallicus. Harsh death vocals greet you at the castle door and blow your hair back with their ferocity. Then Soren Mourne enters with her sonorous, soothing croons creating a stunning beauty and the beast pageant supported by excellent doom riffs and melancholic trilling. The atmosphere is great and things get plenty heavy, leaving it to Soren to provide the only rays of light. An impressive beginning and things only improve from there. “Of Creeping Moss and Crumbling Stone” is more extreme yet greater in scope, beautiful and crushing in turns. The song deftly segues from classic doom-death grit and grime to soaring peaks where Soren flies majestically over the murk and mire. It’s an arcane and wonderful journey and every bit of its 7-plus minutes is utilized for maximum impact. This could easily end up Song o’ the Year in twelve months’ time and I cannot get enough of this dark wonder.

“Without Answer” is another absolute clusterbomb where Soren’s understated vocals and sighing cello dance a delicate ballet with ballcrushing riffs and harsh vocals. It’s a study of contrasting elements working perfectly together and there’s a strong Fvneral Fvkk vibe in the air. The heaviness is maintained even during the most melodic moments and things always remain deeply downtrodden. Soren excels here, her voice shining a frail, flickering light into the darkness. Etienne Finn outdoes himself here with sad guitar trilling and harsh, guttural death roars which pair stunningly with Soren’s soft singing. There’s something about this song that grabs me and simply won’t let go. I would be greatly remiss for not commenting on mammoth 12-minute closer, “The Path.” Rare is the song of this length that doesn’t need trimming, but this one is just fine as is. I’m crazy about the dark vibes invoked and the unrelentingly gloomy feeling the song instills in your heart. The shifting vocal styles and consistently sharp guitars keep you laser focused and when it ends you’ll want to start it right back up since it doesn’t feel like a 12-minute song at all. At 47 minutes, The Weight of Remembrance is the ideal length with no song overstaying its welcome. The production can feel a bit muddled at points but overall it suits the material quite well.

I’m impressed by everything the duo does here. Soren’s cello work is understated and never overwhelms the guitar. It’s a rich mood enhancer but never the focus. Soren’s vocals are also on point2 – subdued but full of vulnerability and despair. She’s the perfect foil for Etienne’s uber-heavy death roars and blackened cackles. These extreme sounds punch the material up several notches and create an oppressive aura laden with dread. His guitar work is excellent, ringing all the classic doom bells and delivering a crushing, weeping cavalcade of existential unhappiness. This is a highly talented twosome with a tremendous grasp of what makes doom come alive for the listener. There’s tremendous beauty here along with genuine heaviness, and the two sides claw and tear at each other in symbiotic equipoise. In short, this is a clinic on how to write enthralling doom.

So here I am, stuck in the unenviable position of being the first to crack the well-rested Score Safety Counter in 2023. I regret nothing though because The Weight of Remembrance is one of the best doom albums you’ll hear this year. Debuts this mature and successful don’t come around often and Tribunal just planted a big flag on the doom map. The verdict: Get your ears on this thing ASAP or face ridicule and scorn.

Rating: 4.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: 20 Buck Spin
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: January 20th, 2023

Show 2 footnotes

  1. And to prevent a disturbingly over-eager Cherd from getting his grabby, grubby hands on a potentially promising release.
  2. She handles bass as well.
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