Tribulation - _The Horror_
(Pulverized Records, 2009)
by: Colleen Burton (7 out of 10)
While the new wave of thrash groups are rearing their '80s-inspired heads in the States, Tribulation is emerging onto the Swedish scene with every intention of breathing life into old-school death. These Morbid Angel junkies have switched over to Pulverized Records and produced their first full-length, which stands as an odd mish-mash of death and black -- perhaps not quite with the virility of Goatwhore, but certainly in keeping with that vein, and the typical horror themes are manifest, as the title implies.

A spooky intro gives way to a strong start in "Crypt of Thanatophilia", a beastly must-listen track (and rather pretentious homage to an obsession with death) that peaks in intensity about midway through the song, when the shredding and blasting pause for heavy riffs and perfect vocals, leaving absolutely nothing to be desired. In "Curse of Resurrection" they continue to offer their admirable perspective on switching up speeds during the songs, displaying a nice balance of sinister slow breakdowns as would Dissection and the frantic portions of tremolo-picked guitar alongside complicated drumming. Johannes Andersson is at the top of his game; the bass isn't the most present element, but his voice is top-notch, predominantly giving Tribulation its black metal flavor. Mid-album, the later influences of acts like Immolation become evident, with the band playing a more highly technical style than that of the old masters. They like to wind down each song into a slow and creepy conclusion which would honestly get old quickly if they weren't so good with their arrangements. "The Vampyre" sounds a bit like Dark Funeral at first but cranks out a heaviness and a Deicide-like clarity in the guitar work of Hulten and Zaars. The keyboards are used sparingly and to great effect, as in "Seduced by the Smell of Rotten Flesh".

Overall, Tribulation is somewhat unable to live up to the slaughter that "Thanatophilia" promised, yet there is no filler to speak of during _The Horror_ and their unrelenting and talented approach leaves a distinct impression that it just ends too soon. Although they're coming a bit out of left field, old-school appreciators should be cautioned against pigeon-holing these Swedes for picking up on an '80s tradition, because they're offering something that's rather distinctly their own design, and _The Horror_ is disgustingly good, besides.


(article published 15/3/2009)

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