Review Summary: Blisteringly harsh death/thrash.
It’s a strange scenario to consider, this constant combining of genres. It doesn’t help that each person has their own beliefs as to what belongs in what genre and what belongs in other genres, and even worse yet that some people will create entirely new genres for bands (Brocore, Power Pop, Breath Metal). Considering the capacity of combining two things to spectacularly fail, one would expect bands to try to play it safe and stick to what they know best. This is why Deathened Thrash Metal or Thrashy Death Metal or whatever inane label can be thought of is an extremely volatile genre.
Considering Thrash metal, the genre has been stagnant since its inception, with bands constantly rewriting each other’s riffs to the point where upon a single listen of any thrash metal album, a listener has realized the entirety of what thrash has to offer considering riffs. Considering Death Metal, however, there’s a genre that is on a perpetual downward spiral into bludgeoning mediocrity. Sometimes there’s an instance of “the lesser of two evils”; death metal just has two evils: deathcore and technical death metal. Both genres, when done right (which is nigh impossible), sound fantastic. Deathcore, with its barrage of identical breakdowns, shrill ‘brees’, and consistently astoundingly bad vocals, often induces upon the listener a state of awe and consternation that something can sound so boring and be played by such talented musicians. Technical Death metal is what happens when people skip the songwriting part of music and go straight to the instrument playing. All shred, no substance. So with the temperamental capabilities of both thrash metal and death metal, it’s safe to presume that only the most ballsy of men and women would attempt combining the two.
, of Sweden, are just such a group of ballsy people. On their latest release, the originally titled The Horror
, they accomplish a daunting task. Combining punishing riffs with the groovy headbanging tendencies of thrash, they manage to exact with acute precision only the most wonderful aspects of both their genres. Leaning more towards the death metal side than thrash, both genres can still be heard throughout the entirety of the album. However, just mixing the two genres adeptly isn’t enough to make the music interesting; what these guys have going for themselves is precision. As a band, it’s very evident that everyone in the band is able to play off of each other; no parts of the sound clash with each other, and no member is over-exerting themselves while others take a lackadaisical approach. This can also come across as a flaw, unfortunately, because while everything they accomplish on their latest outing is technically flawless and proficient, it is also astoundingly uninventive. Perhaps a flaw of the sub-genre itself, and more profoundly of thrash itself, but nothing accomplished on The Horror
is new; it’s just very well done. Points for breathing life into the genre, but what Tribulation
have accomplished on their latest outing is akin to sending a deceased pet to a taxidermist; it only appears to be alive, yet it is still empty inside. Such is the debacle behind their new album; it accomplishes nothing more than adding a new coat of paint to a ruined house.
This is not to say that the album is not worth checking out. Fans of thrash metal will enjoy the groovy sections thrash is well known for, and fans of death metal will surely enjoy what an impressively crushing resonance that they achieve. Not to be taken lightly, Tribulation
attain a sound that is uncompromisingly heavy; stalwarts of both genres have a hard time achieving the dense sound that this band achieves. With this denseness, however, comes a feeling of exactitude; the band never tries to sound heavier than they can be. Reaching a sort of audible climax, the band is as punishing as possible without sounding overbearing. This sound may come off as tiring, however, because there are very few breaks on the album; a short intro leads into the standout second track, and a short break in the middle of the album provides some eerie synthesizers to distract the listener. Nothing inventive, and perhaps too little too late; rather than a stop for the aural train that is The Horror
, it comes off more like a distraction. Not to be forgotten are the throaty attempts at brutality by the vocalist. Though he is clearly an accomplished growler, he does nothing more than he has to; both a detriment and a helper to their sound, this allows the instrumentalists to show off a tad more, but the listener can’t help but quite wonder if they could achieve a more dynamic sound with an increased focus on vocals.
One, perhaps unintended, consequence of this style is that they sound incredibly evil. As cliché as it may sound, The Horror
sounds vicious and infernal; a sound that many desperately grasp at but frequently fail to achieve. It is arguable whether or not Tribulation
were attempting to bring about such a vile tone, but it is inarguable that such a sound exists. Then again, considering the album title, it is perhaps too much of a coincidence to argue that it was an accident. The vibe given off by the album is at times both unsettling and somewhat scary.
won’t change the minds of anyone who does already like Deathened Thrash or Thrashy Death or Deathrash or whatever. Anyone who already counts themselves as a fan can do absolutely no harm to themselves by giving this band a shot, however. Crushing riffs with groovy lines, Tribulation
combine everything important to both genres and come away without hitting any of the excruciating aspects of either. Especially worth checking out for fans of the first two Deathchain
albums and Withered