Friday 1 May 2015

Tribulation - 'Children of the Night' (Album Review)

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 20/04/2015
Label: Century Media Records

‘Children of the Night’ CD//DD//LP track listing:

01. Strange Gateways Beckon
02. Melancholia
03. In The Dreams Of The Dead
04. Winds
05. Själaflykt
06. The Motherhood Of God
07. Strains Of Horror
08. Holy Libations
09. Cauda Pavonis
10. Music From The Other

Tribulation are:

Johannes Andersson | Bass, Vocals
Adam Zaars | Guitars
Jonathan Hultén | Guitars
Jakob Ljungberg | Drums


Close to ten years of being an avid fan of obscure and extreme music has seen a lot of releases over a lot of genres come and go. Through these years of constant music you hear peaks and troughs, floods of mediocrity in-between. Through it all and despite all my listening, I cannot ever remember anticipating a death metal album as much as I have with Tribulation's latest release.

The Swedish four piece released 'Children of the Night' via Century Media to what must have been the overwhelming pressure of having it compared to their previous and sophomore release, the incredible 'The Formulas of Death'. That album turned death metal upside down, and in my mind redefined what the genre could be in much the same way as Atheist's 'Unquestionable Presence' did. The obvious and oft unfair question in such situations may then unfortunately be not to what extent the album lives up to expectations, but to how much it disappoints.

To be blunt, 'Children of the Night' was not what I was expecting. I don't know what I expected but it involved possibilities of extended esoteric death metal soundscapes more akin to Locrian than Mitochondrion, song writing dynamics that tossed the album about like a ship in fierce waters yet never going into zeuhl-esque flounderings. What I ultimately got was an album that sat easy on my ears, big choruses leaping from mid tempo verses. Gorgeous organ lines sat beneath crystal clear guitar tone production, solos sung more than screamed. Essentially a collection of solid and listenable songs written in a solid mature manner. Perhaps it is the seasoned extreme metal listener in me, but even the consistent and great harsh vocal delivery by Johannes Andersson does little to roughen up the palatable mix of sounds.

This barely qualifies as death metal, and even lacks the vital characteristics of melodeath, but it's clear this is exactly what the band intended (or perhaps more accurately didn't give a shit about). Other reviews seem to point towards the later parts of the album dragging on, losing the power that earlier parts exuded. I must disagree with this, with the album consistently delivering over its ten tracks, and if there is any truth to it then it merely reflects the gentle gradient on which the band chose to end.

Perhaps it isn't what this individual wanted but that is no reflection on the quality of the music, which will hit the spot for far more people than 'The-Formulas-of-Death-on-more-drugs' I wanted would. But that doesn't stop the album being somewhat of a letdown for me in some regards. It's like going to see a long lost friend you remember as a weirdo who never seemed to fit in yet radiated an incomparable sense of wisdom, and instead finding he had turned into a kinda fun guy you can have a great time with. Sure he no longer has an issue listening to you moan about your girlfriend, but in the process he lost a little of the very reason you valued him so much as a friend. 

Setting that aside, I believe 'Children of the Night' to be one of the outstanding releases of the year so far and is sure to feature prominently in end-of-year lists across the board. Perhaps this album is the band's 'Black Album' after their '...And Justice For All' in terms of stylistic shift, but I have faith in Tribulation to make their 'Load' better than the entirety of Metallica's post 1991 material combined. But then again vomiting on a mic would probably have much the same effect.

Words by: Jake Mazlum

‘Children of the Night’ is available now

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