Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tribulation: "The Formulas of Death"

This album came out way back in March and I didn't give the band a lot of thought until I saw they were billed as openers for Watain this fall, so I checked them out and found their newest effort a more evolved work . Truth be told I had to check and make sure this was the same band as the packaging was so different, the name written in normal font rather than the ghoulish drip of normal death metal logos and the cover art seemed pretty minimal as well.

The opening instrumental serves as more of an intro for "Wander in the Outer Darkness", the most noted change from what I have heard of their earlier work is this has less of the raw "Altars of Madness" early death metal feel to it and they have adopted more of an early Dissection sound. The production is crisper , the vocals are more refined rasp, with less maniacal gurgle to them. Like most bands of the ilk the sheer velocity of what they do always impresses in the first song and then falls on can the make it interesting and keep you listening.

"Spectres" is at a similar thrashy pace, the Dissection influence also causes them to sound a little like their tour mates Watain here, in the way they let the chords ring out. Then there is an unexpected muted  break down where the drums fall out for a breather. They come back in for an odd tempo groove before building back up into the double bass blast. The vocal approach begins to make me think of Erik from Watain in their phrasing at this point.

The ten minute epic "Suspira De Profundis" opens with a creep of reverb soaked clean guitars before they crunch into what might be heard as the chorus. While I suppose comparisons could be drawn to Watain's "Waters of Ain" it does hold more of it's own identity, than any blatant mimicry. There restrained chugs are part of their own identity, this is a drama step away from being just a retro death metal band and I am sure in some circles there are cries of sell outs.  This song goes on a jammy exploration that eventually builds up into a metal chug.

The roll drums leads right into " Through the Velvet Black" before they keep at a tense blast for a moment and leap into a gallop, so the drums on this album are killing it all over the place and perhaps this is where the most growth has taken place as there is the old saying a band is only as good as their drummer. By the two and a half minute mark this feels much more like thrash. The Dissection elements do make this blackened what ever we want to label this. Though in the more straight ahead element of what they do I'm ready for more melody by this point in the album.

"Randa"changes the pace, lets the chords ring out with more dissonance.  The chuggas that come in are very Dissection in their execution, but they do keep things up until now switched up enough to avoid being Thulcandria. I do find myself having to listen harder to find something that engages me, which is where I find myself with a lot of death metal and less experimental black metal these days. There are guitar solos but they aren't reinventing the wheel.  I can say to do steer clear of going to the guitar harmonies that annoy me with a lot of swedish death metal.

There is a trippy Pink Floyd shimmer to the intro of  " When the Sky is Black With Devils" and is the first song that returns to a more Morbid Angel sound.  Though not devoid of Watainism, it has a frantic march of "Total Funeral" , the clean break down at the end sparing it of coloring to safely in the lines , though it is a fun song.

The break neck pacing returns on "Spell", it finds the band back to the altar of Dissection/Watain. The big galloping chug saves this song, from boring me. The guitar solos on this album are a welcome addition but don't add a lot. The more sonic section that develops at the four minute mark is more what I need from them . Just playing fast doesn't equate dark to me, their needs to be some depth and Tribulation shows they are capable of finding it and not being just big dumb death metal.

The moodier clean guitar returns on " Ultra Silvam" .  The guitar tone through out the album is impressive, on the more effected sections it has the space to resonate to a greater extent.  This song proves to be the one instrumental that doesn't come across as just a transitionary piece and had the potential to be developed into something more fully realized but it's fine for what it is.

The album closes with the 13 minute  "Apparitions" that returns to their  death metal roots. The more hooky Morbid Angel riff, tags in when the song seems like it is off to bland start. The Dissection chords charge in after them, followed by a solo that puts them in Watain's neighborhood, so all the elements gather for the big finish. Approaching the five minute mark the song begins to shift into dark space, but only for a minute before charging back in. They break back down into moodier clean guitar, each time I find my self hoping for them to turn the corner into something less tedious, than the chug which we got the memo on. They do begin to introduce more exotic scales to wander around, but it's heading into the final ten minutes.

I do appreciate the direction this band is growing in and find this is a fun listen even if the influences are worn on their sleeves, I'm probably more forgiving of this because they are influenced by three of my favorite bands so will round this down to a 8.5 only because some of the pounding monotony could have give way to their more ambitious side.

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