Review Summary: Nope. This is the rise of Tribulation.
Why would Tribulation, a band of Swedish gothic deathwave vampires that are basically in their prime, choose Hamartia
as the title for this new release? You may not know this but "Hamartia" is a term widely used in ancient Greek screenplays to refer to the downfall of a hero. Yes, it's true that I was honestly terrified when guitarist and main songwriter Jonathan Hultén announced his departure from the band to pursue his solo career after they had just finished recording together Where the Gloom Becomes Sound
in 2021. At the time, I was convinced that losing the man that was their main creative force would have a deep impact on the band's future; in other words: I was afraid that the band’s downfall was imminent. What I didn't expect was that this collection of new tracks and a cover would dispel all my fears so quickly. I certainly underestimated Zaars’ contribution to Hultén’s ideas in past albums, but on top of that, these new songs prove that new axeman Joseph Tholl and Adam Zaars are a terrific guitar tag team. Tholl is no longer shadowing Hultén’s notes, in fact, he offers a song of his own called “Axis Mundi” which is actually the highlight of this EP. His playing is so good that you'll only need a few seconds into the opening title track to forget that you're listening to a band that has just undergone such a significant change in their ranks.
, Tribulation sound as good as ever. Johannes Andersson’s throat boils and burns with feral growls, delivering probably one his best performances up to date. Oscar Leander’s drumming is on point, providing a solid foundation for Zaars' and Tholl's twin solos and embellished guitar melodies. I’m impressed by how cohesive and tight their bond is, a connection that was born during their stint together with vintage metal troopers Enforcer, and that has translated beautifully now in Tribulation. The band's three new offerings are pretty much in line with their two last affairs with gothic tinged death'n'roll. There's no doubt that they have found their speed at this point and now they are just improving and refining the formula. The real surprise here is the cover of Blue´Öyster Cult's "Vengeance (The Pact)”, which is brilliantly adapted to the Swedes' particular style with the addition of (maybe for the first time) clean vocals, which will immediately put a certain Swedish band called Ghost in the back of your mind, along with the likes of... Def Leppard?
In that regard, it's no surprise Andersson and co. have chosen Tom Dalgety (Ghost, Opeth, Pixies...) to mix the album in the UK and Magnus Lindberg of Cult of Luna to put in the last touches. The result is a mini-album that sounds absolutely glorious, quite an unexpected treat for fans of Tribulation, and if this is a glimpse of what's to come, I'm ready to let my neck be bitten at will.