"Down Below" (Century Media; 2018)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

Holy shit. It's been almost ten years since we reviewed an album by Tribulation. And, after listening to "Down Below," I can tell you it won't be another ten years until we review more of this amazing Swedish band's music.

"Down Below" is a triumph of macabre metal sound. It's an album that sets the tone, track-by-track, with eerie tones of guitar and keyboards. The growling vocals aren't screams but are just as menacing while, at the same time, telling each track's story completely.

As I listened to "Down Below," I re-read the review by Metal Mark that was posted here in 2009. He uses the term "thrash metal" to describe Tribulation. It's been a long, long time since I listened to "The Horror," but I can tell you that "Down Below" doesn't fall into thrash territory (at least very often). Instead, it's a dark, heavy musical journey that touches many metal genres, choosing to communicate as effectively as possible without being tied to any one particular style of sound. Anyone who doubts that needs only to listen to "Purgatorio," which could be a track from the soundtrack of any Italian horror movie.

Thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end, "Down Below" is the kind of album that ignites your enthusiasm and makes you want to go out and find more of the band's music. That's what I'll be doing with Tribulation, even as I continue to enjoy "Down Below" over and over again.

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"The Horror" (Pulverized; 2009)

Reviewed by Metal Mark

Around, say, 1987 - 1989 thrash metal was peaking and it was also becoming a crowded scene. It was difficult for new bands to establish themselves and get noticed amidst a growing pack of acts. Now, two decades later it is probably even more difficult for up-and-coming thrash bands. It's an increasingly bloated scene plus these bands have to deal with being compared with all the thrash bands of the past.

The task of establishing themselves doesn't seem to bother Sweden's Tribulation, though. Their influences are obvious as I hear Kreator, Sodom, Possessed and Morbid Angel. They don't rely too much on any one influence, which is probably to their advantage in the end.

Now, I do have to say that the second half or so of this album was much better than the first. The first four or five songs seem to lack character. They just chugged along without a great deal of direction or intensity. After that, however, Tribulation pick up the pace and begin to sound like they really mean it. During the second half of the album there are far more pace changes and even some fine explosive bursts.

I certainly cannot say that Tribulation are one of the top thrash acts going today. They simply are not consistent or powerful enough to deserve that kind of praise. However, they knocked out at least part of a really good album. This is definitely a band with some potential, they just need to gather everything together and be able to bring all they can to every song on the album.

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Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.


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Copyright 2018 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.