TRIBULATION - The Formulas of Death (INVICTUS / AJNA LP 2013)
Tribulation was a band that made enormous impression on me, when they unleashed killer “The Horror” LP as well as “Putrid Rebirth” EP. Oh yeah, that was something amazing and was enough to describe this band as one of the best newcomers of this new century. Sadly, it took them four years to come up with another album, but I guess if every band needs time to complete their most spectacular release, then I have no problems with it. Because I do consider “The Formulas of Death” to be Tribulation’s finest piece of music so far. And it’s even better than the stunning debut. Yeeaahhh!
But I have to say that it’s not an easy record. Just by looking at the artwork you would have some mixed feelings and expect nothing and everything. It all is very much in the style of 70’s rock or early (doom) metal albums. I mean the lettering that was used here, graphics for the amazing front artwork, labels on the vinyl, even the band’s photograph inside of the gatefold reminds me old Black Sabbath photos. Plus there’s fantastic booklet, with more artwork in the horror style, with this creepy, but fascinating mysterious, ghastly images. So, what music can come with it? Surely Tribulation doesn’t repeat themselves and took a far road into more progressive and original style of… hmm, I guess you can say that they decided to mix black, death metal with a bit of doom and progressive rock, all spiced with 70’s music flavours. Hmm, I don’t know if that will be a proper description, which would give a justice to “The Formulas of Death”, but if not, then you just must play this record by yourself and let it devour you, let it take you into its dark, eerie world. Because listening to “The Formulas of Death” is like taking a journey into netherworld or the unknown. A long trip, as the album is more than twice as long as its predecessor, with 75 minutes of music on two vinyl records.
One thing is certain – if you expect a rough, aggressive old school death metal alike to “The Horror”, then “The Formulas of Death” will disappoint you strongly. You should rather start playing it with an open mind and heart also, but I dare to say that once you get into its essence and dark aura, you will love it deeply. At least I did. It’s incredibly varied and progressive album, I mentioned that you’ll find here some elements of death metal, but even more of black metal in my opinion, similar to such albums like “Reinkaos” or even “Lawless Darkness”. Side A is enough to cause ejaculation, when it begins with fantastic instrumental piece “Vagina Dentata”, which is first step into the more progressive and melodic side of the album. And then it takes us into two sensational songs “Wanderer in the Outer Darkness” and “Spectres” (which are among those tracks that I feel like sound a lot like Dissection, with more aggressive and evil aura, some faster parts, etc). Killer riffs there, very good arrangements and ideas, brilliant performances and that warm sound that is powerful and kind of unique too. I love how it all is sounding together, completes each other, despite the whole variety.
The further you go though, the more varied this album becomes. At first listen I was quite surprised to hear for example so many cleaner guitar tones or calm, more atmospheric, sometimes kind of 70’s rock parts, which now I think sound splendid along the harsh, aggressive vocals of Johannes Andersson (who this time sounds a lot like Eric from Watain) and with the atmosphere the music embodies. The band has expanded their influences much above everyone’s expectations, but it worked damn fantastic on songs like “Suspiria de Profundis” or “Rånda”. On the other hand I kind of feel like with “Spell” the ideas went away and this is one of the very few weak parts of the whole album, with just a bunch of uninteresting and forgettable riffs. Anyway, this album is in my opinion like a drug. It addicts, it will not leave you careless and it will not let forget.
Standout tracks: “Wanderer in the Outer Darkness”, “Spectres”, “Rånda”, “Spell”
Final rate: 95/100