Review Summary: The Cure to Death.
As some of you may know, Tribulation’s former axe man and main songwriter Jonathan Hultén is no longer a member of the band. After a busy last year that saw him releasing his first solo album and collaborating with the likes of Crippled Black Phoenix with his voice for the enrapturing “The Invisible Past”, Hultén decided to leave Tribulation to focus on different projects outside the band. Fortunately, he wouldn’t call it quits without a final offering to the coven he has been part of for seventeen years, an album that is the culmination of a sound they have been chasing since the conception of 2015’s The Children of the Night
. In a way, Where the Gloom Becomes Sound
is partly Hulten’s legacy, and it also marks the end and the beginning of an era.
Obviously, the band’s fifth full length resonates beyond Hultén, and this is made clear from the moment “In Remembrance” storms the speakers. Hultén scent is undoubtedly there; those guitar leads that feel like they are drying the blood out of your heart with every note speak of him as much as in the band’s previous effort, Down Below
, but the further one descends into this last album, the more apparent it becomes that this is the result of a band reaching some sort of communal enlightenment, and not just the masterwork of a single mind. After all, a written script is no more than words on paper without the actors that breathe life to the scene.
Where the Gloom Becomes Sound
, to put it blatantly, sounds like the spawn of Celtic Frost and The Cure, the defiled version of Sisters of Mercy exhumed by a NWOBHM cult to awaken evils of old, with a Johannes Andersson that growls like the undead son of Lemmy and Tom Warrior. Drummer Oscar Leander (ex-Deathstars), who joined the band for the recording of Down Below
, sounds like he has settled in nicely at this point, shining throughout the album with a solid and steady performance that leaves some highlights in the faster tracks like “Daughter of the Djinn”. The same goes for Adam Zaar’s guitars, the perfect counterpart for Hulten’s leads, and whose howling riffs are the backbone of Tribulation’s sound.
Continuing where Down Below
left off, Tribulation delves deeper into themes of death and the horrors that dwell beyond. “Hour of the Wolf” and “Leviathan”, both released as singles, mark the pace in the first half with gothic resolve, like a poisonous serpent hidden in the sheets, taking its first bite, and leading into the agonic doom of “Dirge of a Dying Soul”. The album is cleaved in half by a piano interlude called “Lethe”. It’s a brief lethargy before “Daughter of the Djinn” is unleashed followed by the frenzied “Elementals”. The vampiric fever runs deep at this point, with church organs and theremin-like guitars announcing the bewitching “Inanna”, which acts as a the final embrace before “Funeral Pyre” chokes the album with a neck twisting riff signaling the end of the descent. “The Wilderness” closes the album in King Diamond fashion, with Hultén and Zaar’s guitars dueling under the moonlight and Johannes’ spectral gutturals exuding the album’s last breath.
Where the Gloom Becomes Sound
is Tribulation at its best, a testimony of everything that the band is capable at this point, but also an album weaved and dominated by Hulten’s vision. A new age starts here, with former Enforcer’s Joseph Tholl replacing Hultén on the six strings, so it’ll be interesting to see how this change affects the band in the long run. For now, savor these sweet last drops because you never know; they might be the last you’ll know.