The Children Of The Night

Written by: AP on 16/06/2015 16:24:25

Six years ago, a little known quartet of Swedes from the tiny town of Arvika waltzed into the spotlight with flying colours, enamoured critics worldwide, and reduced our notoriously stringent metal inspector Ellis Woolley to total submission with their staggering debut album ”The Horror”. One of a rare breed of metal bands with a genuine claim to having the coveted it, that elusive palette of qualities, abilities, confidence and gusto that makes leaders out of men; the moniker Tribulation was suddenly on the lips of every sophisticated connoisseur of metal, and it became no less crucial when, in 2013, they ambushed said people with the radically different ”Formulas of Death”. Here was an outfit with such supreme trust in their own competences that they felt transforming the brutal onslaught into progressive structures and mystical expressionism clocking in at more than double its predecessor’s running length was not just logical — it was perfectly impervious to critique.

As such, “The Formulas of Death” not only defied expectation, but also foreshadowed a significant alteration of the recipe by which Tribulation’s future direction was to be defined. Gone is the shocking extremity of the quartet’s past on this third outing “The Children of the Night”; the seeds were sown, and now the harvest is reaped for minting some of the most unique, forward-thinking and hybrid metal since Kvelertak emerged with their exceptional self-titled debut in 2010. Mind you, similarities between the two bands are strictly limited to the same audacious mindset, the occult frost and gothic melancholy so central to Tribulation’s music forming a polar opposite to Kvelertak’s raucous, rock’n’roll energy. Ola Ersfjord’s fuzzy, organic production here gives the record a distinctly 70’s rock feel to be sure, but despite the fact that you won’t hear salvos of blast beats or ghastly tremolo at all on the record, Tribulation’s love of black and death metal still takes precedence over the more mainstream aspirations at play here.

Tribulation’s days of yore are mostly fossilised in the raspy, growling style of bassist Johannes Andersson, unmoved in spite of the classic prog and psychedelic traditions by which guitarists Adam Zaars & Jonathan Hultén now often swear. Songs such as “In the Dreams of the Dead” and “Strains of Horror” honestly sound like Darkthrone jamming ‘Zeppelin and ‘Floyd, and despite the obvious schism between those artists, the result is oddly compatible, and absolutely riveting. That eclecticism on its own is enough to woo most listeners, but where Tribulation further distinguish themselves is the adamancy in writing songs that generally hover well past the 5-minute mark. The instrumental aspects of the quartet’s music are thus given huge room to breathe, with the stellar Zaars & Hultén-duo frequently swerving off into lengthy esoteric passages laced with scintillating solo work and elegantly tempered Hammond organ. Their sinewy ideas produce even more intrigue for tracks like “Melancholia” and “The Motherhood of God”, both of which would have been laden with lasting value regardless by virtue of their infectious drive, groove and signature melodies.

The richness of the soundscape, and Tribulation’s willingness to follow their collective train of thought wherever it may lead, demand patience of the listener for sure — especially in the later segment of the record, where the magnificent “Holy Libations” in particular awes with an accomplished solo clawing on for the best part of 3 minutes. But these are the hallmark of musicians possessing not only tremendous skill, but also the soul to write music of the highest order, a quality all too seldom witnessed in the contemporary state of the metal genre. Tribulation understand that, when executed with finesse and assigned a clear purpose in the grand scheme of a record, there is room for 6-minute instrumental pieces and piano intermezzos, just as they reject the ludicrous proposition that embracing pop sensibilities somehow annihilates a metal band’s integrity by default. So if, like me, you find yourself a little jaded by the constant barrage of over-polished dross and mass appeal mediocrity spewing forth from every orifice, “The Children of the Night” will provide a timeless antidote in the form of a bold and ambitious, yet cozily organic fusion between extreme metal and a plethora of other styles deemed unacceptable by metal purists.


Download: Melancholia, In the Dreams of the Dead, The Motherhood of God, Holy Libations
For the fans of: In Solitude, Morbus Chron, Obliteration, Stench
Listen: Facebook

Release date 10.04.2015
Century Media

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