Tribulation - Down Below
Century Media
Progressive Gothic Death
9 songs (46'40")
Release year: 2018
Official Website, Century Media
Reviewed by Alex

When I first heard The Lament, the opening song from Tribulation most recent album Down Below, I thought at first this is a different Tribulation. After all there are a few bands out there with this name, and The Lament could not have come from the same band which only a few years back released a defining old school Swedish death metal album The Horror. Doing more research, and watching the video for The Lament the realization slowly set in. This is the same Tribulation, not only that, sans the drummer, it is even the same lineup. This is the price you pay when you discover something wonderful (The Horror), but then fail to follow the band. Down Below has absolutely nothing to do with The Horror, or death metal as one might understand the genre basics, but apparently Tribulation has been on this path for a while. The Lament and Lady Death, another song from Down Below, were first released a couple of years prior to today. The challenge then was not to comprehend Down Below in comparative terms to Tribulation old material, not to chastise Tribulation for what they are today, painted faces and all, but to try and judge its progressive gothic death merits on its own. Yup, this is the best description I can provide for Down Below.

Every time I gave Down Below a spin I wanted to find a reference. In the end I probably failed, as the only relatively close mentions I could think of were latter day Godgory, Finnish Gandalf and … maybe mid-era Sentenced, but none of them are exact. If the goal was to produce an album not so provocative in terms of riffs, not grating at all in terms of sound, with only a patina of dirt in the production, but catchy, very suitable to broader consumption and creepy, in as much of a B-horror movie flick, then Tribulation certainly succeeded. Slightly watery guitar sound, Johannes Anderson hoarse singing and splashes of synth here and there (unthinkable a decade ago) carry the day. Sure The Lament and Cries from the Underworld sound somewhat sinister, but the menace seems a bit light and somewhat manufactured. There are some rawer rocking tunes, like Lady Death, and that had me thinking Gandalf, but then The World has almost a pop melody pushed forth by rolling double bass. If The Lament and Lady Death only have hints of synthesizers, then Subterranea has an unmistakable keyboard entry, hammer-on-anvil sound effects and mastering polish of a gothic outfit. At least Lacrimosa is not a tribute to a famous Swiss duo, with some ripping guitar wizardry, and Here Be Dragons, after piano setup, slowly unfolds and gets to meatier guitar expanded parts. Nightbound may have the Dissection melodic flow, and perhaps the title had me thinking Night’s Blood, but none of the Dissection cold shrillness. I mentioned mid-era Sentenced, but Amok breathed purity and innovation, while Down Below explores abandoned theater and musical snuffbox sounds on instrumental Purgatorio and at the end of Lacrimosa. Speaking of Dissection, just like many jaws were agape when Reinkaos came out, so was I while adjusting to Down Below and Tribulation being mentioned in the same sentence.

The album is far from unlistenable. In fact, if you have never heard of the band you will receive Down Below at its face value easier. Commercial aspect, songs succinctness and flow, capturing the not too spooky horror atmosphere, providing easy visuals (see The Lament video), and roping you in with catchy gothic melodies – Down Below does all of the above quite well, and is therefore a quality release. I personally will stick to The Horror, however.

Killing Songs :
The Lament, Cries from the Underworld, Lacrimosa
Alex quoted 78 / 100
Other albums by Tribulation that we have reviewed:
Tribulation - Children of the Night reviewed by Charles and quoted 85 / 100
Tribulation - Formulas of Death reviewed by Charles and quoted 94 / 100
Tribulation - The Horror reviewed by Charles and quoted 85 / 100
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