Tribulation have come a long way since they unleashed The Horror back in 2009. With 2015’s breakthrough, The Children Of The Night, they cast off a lot of much of their death metal trappings to become a more polished, more single-minded metal machine… and Down Below sees them continue along that path.
Yes, there’s still a fierceness to the Swedes’ work – thanks in no small part to Johannes Andersson’s devilish rasp – and a seam of pure darkness runs through Down Below, just as it did on The Formulas Of Death and The Children Of The Night. But the quartet have sharpened their songwriting even further this time, drawing on classic metal and even post punk to create punchy little ditties like Lady Death and Subterranea, songs that are full of verve and raw attitude. Indeed, despite their ghoulish image and spectral subject matter, Tribulation sound like they had fun making Down Below, that they enjoyed just rocking out through The Lament and Nightbound, that they know the value of pure, escapist, entertainment.
And while their fourth opus isn’t as riff-focused as some of the band’s earlier work, that doesn’t mean that Adam Zaars and Jonathan Hultén aren’t able to let rip: The World, for instance, sees the pair bring their most dramatic axework to the table, while Lacrimosa has them really going for the jugular. Throw in former Deathstars drummer Oscar Leander into the mix and you have an intoxicating cocktail of slick, stylish goth and gutsy, unbridled metal spirit.
Could Down Below be a little too far from the band’s roots for some long-time fans? Perhaps. But Tribulation’s latest offering will undoubtedly entrance another wave of willing acolytes… and accelerate the Stockholm act’s ascension to bigger stages.
Tribulation appear in Volume IV of HRH Mag – out this week and free to all ticket holders attending HRH Metal this weekend!