» Blog Archive Review: Tribulation's Down Below -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews, Streaming

tribulation 2 There was a point on my second listen off Down Below that I realized Tribulation had done the impossible. The quartet of Swedish musicians surfaced to the greater metal community in 2015 with the critically acclaimed The Children of the Night, transitioning from a death metal act to something else entirely. The Children of the Night, as the cover and the appearance of the band members would suggest, was vampiric and wholly original in comparison to the rest of the scene, which is what would make following the album up a daunting task few bands would be capable of.

The aforementioned “impossible” is what makes Down Below so amazing, in that right out of the gate, Tribulation have met the same standard that they had set with their previous effort. If Children was their “Ride the Lightning,” then by all means, Down Below is their “Master of Puppets.” Down Below is an accessible-yet-original follow to an album that was already unique and different in its own way. Between the various pools of inspiration the band draws from, Tribulation are quickly pushing themselves to the forefront of the metal scene to the beat of their own drum and making their own rules as they go along.

Ester SegarraRight away, “The Lament” doesn’t waste any time in getting you hooked between driving passages and dissonant, modulating phrases to bring the song to life. Bassist and vocalist Johannes Andersson’s lyrics weave a tale, but as his story goes on, so do the instruments as they fluctuate in dynamics and transition to new ideas, comprised of instrumental sections. As the bridge on the song in question opens up with guitarist Jonathan Hulten commanding both guitar and piano in this section, Andersson is able to come in with tasteful and melodic bass playing to give the section  another voice and more life before the band begins to segue through more instrumental sections, bringing it back to the original verse-chorus structure of the song. For a lead single, there’s a lot of music packed in, but in a way it serves as overture for the band as a whole.

Tribulation have found a fine balance between engaging the listener with both instrumental sections and vocally-driven passages, and it plays out through the majority of their songs. Oftentimes, one will find the catchiest parts of the song being a guitar part. It’s surprises like this that make Tribulation such an interesting act, but even more interesting are the progressive-isms that come out when the band take a more upbeat and extreme route to their sound with a track like “Lacrimosa,” which charges its way onto the track listing with a driving double pass pattern and ever so slightly blackened tendencies about. While the band have certainly moved away from being a death metal act, they certainly haven’t forgotten a thing or two on how to be extreme.

tribulation 3Whether it’s Gregorian chants or subtle piano melodies, Tribulation have utilized everything to create an atmosphere that looms over the album’s 45-or-so minute run time like a thick fog at high altitude. This album is a cohesive and fluid work of art that doesn’t overstay its welcome, and the production is a big part of that as well. Tribulation have made an interesting decision to make every instrument and detail audible, seeing as this is an incredibly well produced album for a metal band, but in doing so it allows Andersson’s vocals to be more raw than they were on Children and also have the guitars be far more versatile in their sounds over some clean and textured drum work. Deep Below is a damn fine sounding album and the best this band could have hoped for when trying to capture their aesthetics all at once.

It’s hard to come by an album like this, but Tribulation have done something few bands are able to do. As I get older and I hear more music, the less surprised I am by what the output is by certain acts. I’m able to enjoy bands and I often give good reviews out because I recognize the talent is there, but it’s rare that I love a full album. Tribulation have something special with Down Below, and in a perfect world they would be a big as Ghost are right now. If you claim to enjoy heavy metal, this album absolutely deserves a chance; there’s nobody doing anything like this right now, and perhaps one day we’ll be looking back at this album one day as a modern classic.

Down Below is available everywhere now. You can stream “The Lament” in the player below.

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