Tribulation – Where The Gloom Becomes Sound Review

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.

Release date: January 29, 2021 Label: Century Media Records
Organ, vibes, and crystalline reverb. Crunchy guitars over post-punk grooves. Big stadium rock beats. A soul-singing guitar solo. These elements sound so disparate on a page, but Tribulation melds them all perfectly on album opener and longest song, “In Remembrance.” “Hour of the Wolf” is a rocking, almost anthemic piece, reminding me strongly of last year’s Wytch Hazel record. “Daughter of the Djinn” is pure heavy metal. And of course all of these songs belong on the same album. The band has been developing their guitar tone incrementally since their Swedish chainsaw days with 2009’s The Horror. On Where the Gloom Becomes Sound, the band has developed a raw, crunchy sound that works perfectly, whether drawing from Fields of the Nephilim (“Leviathans”) or Morningrise-era Opeth (“Dirge of a Dying Soul”).

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.

Posted by Megan Astarael

The Queen of Frozen Forests (blastbeats in the distance intensify)

  1. I’m part of that subset that finds the vocals a tad much. I always wanted to hear more of Hulten’s amazing voice, but that obviously won’t be happening now since he’s left.


    1. I agree, love the band since the days of Formulas, especially because of the guitar work, but the vocals always seemed like the weaker part of the chain to me. The music is quite dynamic, I think the same would suit quite well the vocal department too.


  2. I am so dearly afraid about this album. Tribulation became my favorite band in the 2010s and “The Children of the Night” is my favorite album of the past decade, if not even the whole of the 21st century. I was shocked to end up as obsessed with a band in my late 40s/early 50s as I had been over Metallica from 1983 to 1986. I NEVER thought that could happen again in my lifetime.

    I enjoyed, “Down Below” very much and played the daylights out of it but…I have not been moved by any of these singles. The band has been at it for awhile now. I suppose they are in their “No Prayer for the Dying”-era: loss of an integral guitar player, start of a new decade, etc. I can only wish the very best for them, but I am worried that this album is just not going to connect with me.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.