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Tribulation - "The Horror" (CD)

Tribulation - "The Horror" CD cover image

"The Horror" track listing:

1. Into The Jaws Of Hell (0:16)
2. Crypt Of Thanatophilia (3:58)
3. Curse Of Resurrection (3:40)
4. Beyond The Horror (3:53)
5. The Vampyre (2:57)
6. Sacrilegious Darkness (3:33)
7. Spawn Of The Jackal (4:41)
8. Seduced By The Smell Of Rotten Flesh (4:47)
9. Graveyard Ghouls (5:00)

Reviewed by on March 2, 2009

"'The Horror' is a lot like a plague of locusts. It shows up without warning, destroys everything in its path, and then is gone before anyone even realizes what happened."

Sweden’s at it yet again, letting out another death metal act that wants to grind the universe to dust in the wake of their suffocating heaviness. Although Tribulation has been around since 2001, with a series of demos and an EP under their belt, “The Horror” is their first full length album to see the light of day on a large scale record label. “The Horror” is a lot like a plague of locusts. It shows up without warning, destroys everything in its path, and then is gone before anyone even realizes what happened.

The opening introduction, rife with piano and eerie horror movie style sound effects, might give the impression that Tribulation is taking a symphonic approach to metal. Sixteen seconds later when the intro ends and the first real track begins, it becomes clear that anything symphonic is simply window dressing for the unrelenting brutality of dual guitars and non-stop blast beating. A few interludes like the opening segment pop up every now and again, but most of them last for less than five seconds before getting back to the task at hand of unleashing the hordes of hell onto the unsuspecting people of Earth.

Tribulation’s brand of death metal is the sort of music that will provoke furious head banging and make people want to light something on fire, but it’s generally so heavy and fast that most would be hard pressed to remember even a single note of it the next day. That shouldn’t be taken as a criticism so much as an observation. Unrelenting onslaughts of death certainly have their place in any metal head’s collection, but death metal fans who want some progressive elements in their music should know that not much of that can be found here. What sets Tribulation apart from all the other death metal bands are their heavy thrash influences and ability to work their theme within the confines of their necessarily short songs. Metal in this vein can’t be sustained over long periods of time without serious repetition bogging it down, so the tracks tend to stick to around for just over three minutes and then end before over staying their welcome. The fifth track, “Beyond the Horror,” houses one of the best examples of small changes creating a huge effect. Half way through the song all of the guitars and drums stop for the duration of a heart beat to allow a single shrill violin string pluck, done in the style of the slasher movie jump scare noise, before returning to their original musical direction.

Combining thrash with death metal is a rather brilliant move because it allows both genres’ strengths to be utilized at the same time. While one guitar is busy trying to smash everything in earshot into little pieces the other one can go off on a technical solo than has more finesse than brute strength. Unfortunately both of their weaknesses are also present, such as their ignoring of the bass altogether. It’s generally a good indicator that the bass will be totally inaudible when the vocalist is also the bass player, and that benchmark holds true here. Some of the blast beating also gets a bit stale, but when the guitars are going as fast as they do on “The Horror” what else can a drummer really do to keep up?

“The Horror” is a short but sweet foray into thrash-tinged death metal with a slight horror themed twist. While the music itself is a little mindless, the extreme heaviness and overall great musicianship make it imminently listenable and worth a death metal fan’s time.

Highs: Brutal death metal with a good amount of thrash virtuosity

Lows: Short and somewhat mindless

Bottom line: A short but sweet thrash-tinged death metal assault

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)