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Tribulation - "The Formulas of Death" (CD)

Tribulation - "The Formulas of Death" CD cover image

"The Formulas of Death" track listing:

1. Vagina Dentata (4:05)
2. Wanderer In The Outer Darkness (7:21)
3. Spectres (6:23)
4. Night (2:33)
5. Suspiria (10:38)
6. Through The Velvet Black (7:31)
7. Rånda (7:06)
8. When The Sky Is Black With Devils (7:03)
9. Spell (6:10)
10. Ultra Silvam (4:24)
11. Apparitions (13:46)

Reviewed by on March 29, 2013

"No matter how you end up listening though, just be sure to listen, as this is one of the most improved albums over a previous release I’ve heard in years, and a knockout 2013 death metal album."

In early 2009, I had the pleasure to review Tribulation’s “The Horror,” noting that the album hit like a horde of locusts, destroying everything in its path and then leaving, essentially ending up “so heavy and fast that most would be hard pressed to remember even a single note of it the next day.” Fast forward four years and history has finally not repeated itself. I’m delighted to report that not only has Tribulation kept up the heaviness, but the Swedish act has thoroughly developed its sound and taken things to the next level in terms of song construction and experimentation.

“The Formulas of Death” isn’t just an album full of face-shredding death metal; it’s also an incredibly varied and adventurous release. Yes, it’s crushing, but there’s much more going on than just brutality. While in the previous album the melodic and theatrical segments were nothing more than window dressing, now they have more of the focus, creating a solid balance between two extremes. Fans of earlier works from Tribulation will also note there’s still a serious thrashiness in the guitars, despite the band leaning overall towards death metal.

The songs are much longer this time around, so there’s more room to try out different styles. The three to four minute tracks from “The Horror” have now been replaced with seven and ten minute monsters. Although they don’t really sound anything like each other (frankly Opeth has never been this heavy or extreme), the album does showcase an Opethian ability to keep songs going for a full ten minutes and beyond without become boring or repetitive.

This newly-evolved Tribulation has a fantastic grasp on how to work and mould songs in different directions. Even when things aren’t skull-crushingly heavy or driven by harsh vocals (such as “Ultra Silvam” or a significant portion of the nearly 11 minute “Suspiria”), there’s still a tension and atmosphere there that’s satisfying for the extreme metal crowd.

“The Formulas of Death” has a great overall sound quality and production, being neither overly polished or too muffled and old-school, although oddly the level of volume is significantly quieter than many other bands - so either crank it up real loud or put on those headphones. No matter how you end up listening though, just be sure to listen, as this is one of the most improved albums over a previous release I’ve heard in years, and a knockout 2013 death metal album.

Highs: Incredibly solid balance of extreme death metal with artistic touches and melodic flair.

Lows: Not everyone's going to last for a 13 minute track, and you'll need to crank up the volume to hear all the various elements present.

Bottom line: Tribulation massively evolves its sound, melding extreme death metal, thrashy guitars, and melodic/progressive touches.

Rated 4 out of 5 skulls
4 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)