ALBUM REVIEW: Down Below – Tribulation

The transformation of TRIBULATION‘s soundscape has been nothing short of intriguing. Rising from the grave in 2005, their debut record The Horror proudly bore the sound of their homeland’s iconic blend of death metal but 2015’s The Children of the Night came completely out of left field. Moving away from their traditional death metal roots to welcome in elements of psychedelic and gothic rock, The Children of the Night witnessed a band pushing their sound to new and intriguing pastures. Three years have passed since that record and for the Swedes, a new album is on the horizon. Enter Down Below.

If anyone was anticipating TRIBULATION to recline fully back to their death metal roots, then opening track The Lament instantly squashes this line of thought through offering a heavily atmospheric but enticing affair. Harmonious twin guitar play from Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hultén dance off each other bringing hooks in abundance to the steady beat whilst Johannes Andersson‘s raspy vocal growls add a wicked level of dread to the track’s haunting atmosphere and show that they haven’t forgotten their roots which is a nice touch indeed. A solid and memorable start to the record.

From there, Down Below really begins to embed itself to the listener by offering a multitude of varying but effective collection of tracks. Nightbound boasts some of the best lead guitar play on the record with a neat and tidy riff throughout the track before subsiding into a memorable and effective solo in the track’s latter half whilst Lady Death‘s steady rhythm allows Andersson’s vocals to really immerse one into the windswept atmosphere. As the record progresses the broad range of characteristics at TRIBULATION‘s disposal really begins to shine. Take Subterranea for example. A dynamic track, the use of solemn keyboards in its opening helps create a harrowing atmosphere before subsiding into slick riffing that ebbs and flows brilliantly in relation to their mid-tempo grooves that allows the atmosphere to fully engulf you.

It’s clear that on Down Below TRIBULATION are aiming to create a horror-themed journey and even if the momentum is somewhat buckled through the creepily slow instrumental short of Purgatorio, following track Cries From The Underworld ensures that the band enter the final third with a flourish. Striking guitar play in the opening builds a theatrical opening before cascading into a epic and dramatic passage of riffs that enable Andersson‘s vocals to truly shine here. It’s one of the standout tracks on the record and really demonstrates the broad range of musical proficiency at their disposal.

Indeed the band aim to leave a lasting impact with their new opus as Down Below‘s final trio of tracks ensure the record ends strongly. Lacrimosa demonstrates the band’s cutting melodic edge with stunning guitar-work as the mood rises and dips in excellent rhythm whilst The World is utterly uplifting through soaring guitar lines and bombastic drumming from new boy Oscar Leander which allows Andersson‘s subtle and limited vocal lines to mould into their gargantuan sound. Final track Here Be Dragons is a different beast in itself. Standing as the record’s longest track at around seven and a half minutes, this extra length allows TRIBULATION to present a dynamic and evolving final descent into hell through a elaborate wall of symphonic elements which reinforce the solid foundation of riffing and vocal shrieks. It all gels strongly to ensure that Down Below ends on a high note.

Whilst Down Below certainly won’t make the same headlines as The Children of the Night did in 2015, what this record offers is a band expanding on their already elaborate sound. Down Below is a dynamic record, one which shines even brighter after repeated spins, and one which demonstrates the band’s calibre to the highest order. It is a record of real quality and one which showcases the utter excellence of TRIBULATION.

Rating: 9/10

Down Below - Tribulation

Down Below is set for release on January 26th via Century Media Records.

Like TRIBULATION on Facebook.