Swedish heavy metal band, Tribulation, return with their 5th studio album titled Where the Gloom Becomes Sound. The new album will be released on the 29th of January via Century Media Records.
The Swedish Grammy Award-winning quartet toiled for the better part of two years creating the new album, Where the Gloom Becomes Sound. After the almighty success of 2018’s Down Below, and it’s predecessor 2015’s Children of the Night, you feel the band will desperately want to maintain their upward momentum. Speaking on the new album and it’s inspirations, guitarist Adam Zaars states:
“We immersed ourselves in the world of myth and magic. With a specific focus on elemental magic, and the elements, in general, from both the Western and Indian esoteric traditions, not the Buddhist four elements but the five elements. Myth and magic are obviously not something new in the world of Tribulation, but it got a bit more specific on this album. We just present it from a slightly different perspective.”
Where the Gloom Becomes Sound was primarily composed by guitarist Jonathan Hultén, who was also writing for and celebrating the release of his solo album, Chants from Another Place. He has since left the band with Joseph Toll joining in his stead. The album title is taken from a song by German darkwave artists Sopor Aeternus & the Ensemble of Shadows. The songs line is –
‘…down, further down, where the gloom becomes sound, on the cell where your love might be found…’
Aside from the now known departure of Jonathan Hultén on guitars, Tribulation remain the same with Oscar Leander on drums, Adam Zaars on guitars and of course, bassist and vocalist, Johannes Andersson.
So, on to the album and we have 10 tracks on Where the Gloom Becomes Sound weighing in at around 49 minutes in length. There are also a couple special editions that comes with some bonus tracks too. A CD version with 1 bonus track called The Dhampir Part 1 and a deluxe LP version with that track, plus two more. Where the Gloom Becomes Sound gets underway with In Remembrance. It has an intricate build up, with gentle layers that grow and evolve into a gothic, melodeath esque track. The vocals are sharp and impactful, guitars passionate and thought provoking all over steady rhythm section.
It’s a supremely listenable song, and the sort that offers up more and more secrets on future listens. The crunch as the chorus jumps in is to die for. What a song, near 7 minutes long and it passed by in seconds. Hour of the Wolf has a neat guitar intro and a catchy rhythm. It has almost folkish melodies at times. A sound that really works with Tribulation’s mystical edge.
Leviathans keeps the mysticism going strong with more impressive lead guitar work. The drums are powerful and the vocals are devilish and come across almost prayer like in delivery. There is a touch of Dark Tranquillity to some of the more melodic passages. I love the echoed guitar solo over drum taps that comes ion a slow down before deep spoken word vocals recite a passage. It also acts as the perfect contrast for a jump back into the song’s main rhythm. Very cool.
Dirge of a Dying Soul has a deep and dark start with more layers joining as it builds. Expecting an explosion of metal, I am thrown when it drops off into a melodic guitar. Then out of the blue it jumps in to a seriously heavy, slowed down crunchy groove. Little intricate melodies jump in here and there, fattening out the song. Vocals hit hard, occasionally dropping back to almost whispered to let the lead guitars soar, occasionally jumping forward to add force and aggression. There is a weighty feel to this song. Like a blanket being draped over you, it leaves you feeling a little down with the guitars offering just enough light to keep you moving forwards.
Lethe is a bit of an extended intermission where a simple melancholic piano ,melody plays out. It’s nice. Daughter of the Dijnn picks the pace back up with some excellent heavy riffage and quick drums. Its a headbanger. The drums are great, the vocals vicious, it’s one to let loose to a bit. We also get an extended instrumental section where we get to see all instruments take their turn at showing off their talent as they move through different phases. I adore this song. The ending is genius.
I really like the next two tracks as well. Elementals and Inanna both offer differing styles with the former being a nice and heavy beast. Packed full of crunchy slams, layered guitars and clever drum fills, it really captures your imagination. The solo is beautifully sad at times, enlightening at others – music that seems to be crafted with the ability to physically affect you. Inanna has slower doomy feel to it, especially at the start, but, even when it kicks in, it maintains the oppressive shroud of darkness. The vocals are a bit clearer here, still growled but easily understood and of course there is another mightily impressive solo.
So we near the end of a pretty remarkable album with two tracks to go. The penultimate one is Funeral Pyre and the heavy returns with a blaze of drums and quick picked riffing. The lead beds itself over the top to create a cracking rhythm. The vocals come quicker as you just have to bang your head along to the insanely good rhythms. It’s a fiery song and a real favourite. So we reach the end of Where Gloom Becomes Sound with The Wilderness. It’s a long track, at over 6 and a half minutes long.
Based on what came before it, I am expecting it to be good and Tribulation don’t disappoint. As catchy as some of the previous tracks have bene, this is up there too. The drum beat and riff in the verses is one you can’t possibly not move for. Aside from that, it offers more of everything heard before really. Biting vocals, screaming leads and catchy riffs make up a great portion of the song. It’s solid and really captures what Tribulation are about on this album. Majesty, mysticism and metal. A fine combination.
Always impressive and occasionally oppressive, the songs on Where Gloom Becomes Sound are meticulously crafted and painstakingly pieced together to create an impressive atmospheric soundscape that toys with your emotions. It isn’t exactly a change in direction for Tribulation. The band’s identity is clearly there though it feels a little more polished than earlier releases.
It’s good music though. Really good. There isn’t an average song on the album and they manage to have a decent amount of variety in song style too. From slower, doomy groove to sped up melodeath, a piano interlude to post black metal – there is a lot to get stuck in. It is an album that requires multiple plays and a little focus too. Each listen seems to bring forth a note, or melody, or drum fill that you missed the first time. Songs that just keep giving.
Where Gloom Becomes Sound is an album that should please fans of the band and the Scandinavian scene in general. For me, I reckon this one is going to get a lot of play time and wouldn’t be surprised to see it very near the top of many lists when 2021’s best releases are compiled.
Get your preorder in with Century Media here.
Where the Gloom Becomes Sound by Tribulation (Century Media Records)
The Final Score - 9/10