Swedish gloom-metallers Tribulation have emerged from the Scandinavian winter with four new songs. This is the band’s first complete release with new guitarist Joseph Tholl as longtime guitarist and songwriter Jonathan Hulten left Tribulation to focus on his own solo projects. Tholl was previously slinging his ax in the speed metal act, Enforce as well as with thrashers, corrupt. Hulten, of course, was a significant loss and the band contemplating breaking up. Thankfully, however, Tholl has been credited by Tribulation guitarist Adam Zaars with saving the band.
I’ve long been a fan of Tribulation and have been mesmerized by their performances. In particular, I believed that 2021’s When the Gloom Becomes the Sound was a dark, gothic work of brilliance and I was sullen at the prospect of that record being the band’s last.
“Axis Mundi” is filled with masterful melody and some standout dual guitars. It’s a touch of that 70’s rock influence that Tribulation is able to blend into it’s already amalgamated blend of sonicscapes.
“Hamartia” was released as a single back in 2022 and it’s very Sisters of Mercy meets black metal with trademark gruff vocals from the throat of Johannes Andersson. For me though, it’s the solos that really make this particular track. Thollalong with veteran member Adam Zars really demonstrate how well they can play off of each other.
An added treat to this EP is the cover of the Blue Oyster Cult track, “Revenge (The Pact).” Zars calls Cult “a constant source of inspiration throughout the years as they always seemed to find new creative ways of doing their thing, which is what we’re always striving for.”
The cover is true to the original purpose with Tribulation‘s unique stamp on it and I really love the fact that the band isn’t afraid to mix in some clean backing vocals here. In fact, after hearing this, I would be delighted if they did more tracks with clean vocals here and there. It’s also rather apparent to my ears that there’s a bit of a Ghost presence in this particular cover. Perhaps this song is a bit of a bridge for fans of their fellow Swedes. Now that I think about it – a Ghost tower with Tribulation opening would be a perfect match! Someone make this happen!
Overall, this is a stellar four song EP. It is undoubtedly essential for those of you who are long time fans of the band. At the same time, this EP acts a great introduction to the band for folks who are looking for something along the goth spectrum that’s just a bit more heavy. I’m definitely looking forward to a full-length from this reconfigured foursome and their more integrative, collaborative song-writing style that’ve more recently adopted.