When Ghost hit in 2010, all corpsepaint and papal rags, you didn’t expect them to sound like… that. You expected this. Tribulation’s fifth record follows a similar cryptic lineage to their fellow Swedes, with a key difference: the vocals. Johannes Andersson has one setting – he grunts like a death metal Lemmy reciting Poe. It’s something he’s clung onto since the band’s pungent beginnings as Morbid Angel worshippers, and fuck you, he’s not stopping now.
It doesn’t matter that sans Johannes, Tribulation now have little to do with extreme music; Funeral Pyre is Randy Rhoads-flecked metal with Treehouse Of Horror-ish theremin-isms; Hour Of The Wolf gives you everything you miss about HIM except, well, Ville Valo; Daughter Of The Dijnn exhumes the Mercyful Fate twin-leads every guitar duo is obliged to perform at some point in their career, and Tribulation do it all seamlessly.
As with their previous two records, melancholy underpins everything, stemming from their love of goth and post-punk. It’s The Cure as much as Sisters Of Mercy: not afraid to wander through soundscapes but clearly up for arch storytelling, never indulging so much as to forget actual songs. Yeah, Tribulation are packing some of those. Despite the disparate influences, every song is engorged with potent hooks. Loads of them. Just let yourself go, hail Satan and scream along to In Remembrance: ‘They were led by the devil, a procession in blood! A dance in the absence of god!’
And it sounds beautiful. The bass harbours analogue warmth, the guitars slice like knives through cinnamon buns – blunt but complex, modern yet anachronistic. With Where The Gloom Becomes Sound, Tribulation have delivered an album of top-tier rock songs, litanies sealed with a baroque gothic tongue. Moreover, they’ve built a sonic city in which those stories can live forever. You owe them a visit.