As Last Rites’s resident goth princess and black metal hippie, I spend equal amounts of time wrapped in black crushed velvet, sighing wistfully in my castle while contemplating the horrors of life, and wrapped in black leather and spikes, screaming wistfully in the woods while contemplating the horrors of life. Sometimes, one has to question the theatricality of it all. The corpse paint, the rattling chains, the fluttering bats, the piles of black clothing options. Wouldn’t it be better to be simpler, more direct? Obviously not. The black lace and the crystal goblet full of blood are just as important as the distorted guitars and snarled poetry, as Where the Gloom Becomes Sound well demonstrates.
Where the Gloom Becomes Sound is the fifth full-length from Swedish goth metal quartet Tribulation. Ten songs, forty eight minutes, and without doubt the band’s strongest performance to date.
Where the Gloom Becomes Sound slows the tempo quite a bit compared to The Children of the Night or Formulas of Death-era Tribulation. The slower tempos seem to suit vocalist Johannes Andersson quite well, as he delivers his strongest snarls. The band seems to have felt this growth too, writing melodies and song structure around Andersson’s poetry. The vocals have been a point of contention in the past for a particular subset of listeners, who argued that the growls felt “tacked on” for the sake of heavy metal expectations. Gloom should put a definitive end to that argument. The band has tightened up the song lengths as well, with most songs in the four to five minute range, as compared to Children of the Night’s six to seven. The pacing of the album is nearly perfect, always keeping the listener engaged in the mood, never letting any one approach become stale.
Here is the strength of theatricality. The melodrama of “Dirge of a Dying Soul,” the sensuality of “Inanna,” the furious energy of “Funeral Pyre,” all joined by this theme of gloom. After all, what could be more a goth response to all the emotions and despairs that this world hands to us but to turn them into sound? To build art and beauty out of horror. Tribulation is able to do it with simplicity just as well as they are with complexity: contrast “Hour of the Wolf”’s 70s rock sensibilities with the harmonized guitar pomp of “Inanna” or the swirling gallop of album closer “The Wilderness.” Indulge yourself. Get lost in the tale of “Dirge of a Dying Soul.” Why not? If the world has given us gloom, then let’s shape it into something like this.
Tribulation are the band Opeth would have been if Mikael Åkerfeldt grew up listening to Bauhaus and Christian Death instead of King Crimson and Rush. They continue to develop and deepen their sound, and nobody else seems to be doing it quite like them. Where the Gloom Becomes Sound should find a solid place in your listening, whether you enjoy it in a castle, in a forest, or in a warehouse. Long live progressive goth metal.