Century Media Records
Tribulation are back, so you know that you’re in for a real treat with this one. These guys in my opinion, have never put out a disappointing release and I can say the same about their latest output, Down Below. In fact, it’s already being hailed as one of the best albums of 2018. Now I don’t mean to fanboy here, but… it’s fucking Tribulation, why wouldn’t they have one of the best records of the year. But what makes this new output so great? Well, let me explain.
First we have “The Lament” which seems to meld garage rock with Castlevania-inspired synths and a slight touch of black metal. If you break this one down, you can really hear the rock edge but with the gothic inspired guitar melodies and synth, there’s a completely different quality that makes it stand on its own. “Nightbound” continues the atmosphere, keeping things along the same gothic line while also making me think of another video game soundtrack. The most interesting thing about this one, is that it is essentially dark, melodic rock with a decidedly harsh vocal front. In a way, Tribulation made a metal album and in the same note, they didn’t. But it’s still enjoyable. However, “Lady Death” features a bit more crunch and captures that black n’ roll feel that Satyricon pioneered back in ’06. I’d say that on both this cut and “Subterranea” the band captures this feel perfectly. This definitely feels like black metal now, but it’s good that the band just didn’t run head on with this formula and decided to ease into it with the first two tracks. Then we have the ominous atmosphere “Purgatorio” which just comes out of nowhere. This is the creepy composition absorbed from horror films that they’ve watched over the years, and is a welcome regurgitation of that sound and style. If there is an indie horror looking for a creepy introduction piece (trick question, there ALWAYS is) I’m quite sure that this would suit the work. “Cries From The Underworld” adds in a touch of psychedelia, surf-rock, acoustic atmosphere and finishes off with a solo, showing the strengths of this band within the black n’ roll atmosphere that they have exhibited throughout the album. In “Lacrimosa” the tolling of bells can be heard amidst chanting and a rather tasteful lead melody at the forefront. There’s a classical feel here, which I think really lends to the atmosphere of the piece. I didn’t however, expect them to kick it into psychedelic high gear. This jam session moment works for them though, as it rolls right into another unexpected bout of piano and synth. The piece here is actually so lengthy that is can be considered an instrumental cut on its own and probably should have been. “The World” comes next with a continued gothic presence, which fills with melody and some notable leads. This is another cut that isn’t quite “metal” per se, but manages to drum up enough of a dark rock or occult rock sense that it just works. Closer “Here Be Dragons” starts out pretty standard-fare for the disc, but it moves into an instrumental jam session complete with wonderful bits of synth and flying guitar solos. In my opinion, this is an impressive way to finish the album, showing once again the strength of this brilliant Swedish act. I don’t have any complaints here, you shouldn’t have any complaints here (and if you do, that’s fine) and ultimately I find the piece to be a find addition to their discography. There’s a reason that Tribulation’s Down Below is considered one of the best albums of the year, so be sure to check it out!
(9 Tracks, 47:00)
Purchase HERE (Amazon)