Tribulation ‎– The Formulas Of Death - Slipcase -CD


Tribulation’s The Horror was a fantastic death metal album that went largely unnoticed if one considers how well-above the heap it was. The recording featured some of the most furious guitar playing the subgenre has offered and the vocals of Johaness Andersson were just bestial. Yet, in part because of the label’s (Pulverised) weak push and in part because of the abundance of death metal releases, Tribulation was unable to stand out as much as they deserved. Especially Statewise, where guitarist Adam Zaars’ other band Enforcer was at the time gaining widespread recognition after 2008’s pompous Into the Night, Tribulation barely got any coverage before sinking in at the bottom of the review pile.

Fast forward four years and Zaars is out of Enforcer. Perhaps because he is now able to focus on Tribulation, the once death metal combo has now released a rather ostentatious second full-length. It is titled The Formulas of Death and it spans over an hour and fifteen minutes of music. Barely any of it could be considered death metal, which is good because we are now presented with a band that is shaking off the genre limitations and is attempting something different and is, to some, not so good because there will be a bunch of death metal bitches whining about how The Formulas of Death is a weak treason of sorts and an unfocused record.

Not to say that The Formulas of Death doesn’t feature any death metal traits, because it sure does. Andersson, for instance, is still a fierce beast throughout, grunting morbidly through entire songs that last as long as thirteen minutes and entire passages feature visceral musical arrangements of straight ahead songwriting. But for the most part The Formulas of Death was designed as a game changer. Tribulation are in here to claim evolution, to step forward and break their own mold. And this could not have been possible without the total concentration of Zaars, whose guitar playing is as incendiary as it was in Enforcer, but is also rather progressive, focused and joyful.

There are moments of utter exhilaration. Mostly those belong to Zaars and his guitar. The Swede crams lots of juicy riffs on each song, but still somehow you know this ain’t pure wankery and while his solos are dexterous, there are no Malmsteen-type excesses here. Largely, the excesses are in the duration of some tracks and in the inclusion of three instrumentals that amount to over ten minutes of music.

As for the majority of the songs themselves, it is rather hard to classify them. It’s nothing you have not heard before, it is just played better and written with a level of thought hardly seen in the genre. It is post death metal in the sense that a song like “Spell” is that at its ferocious core, but is not as a whole since it borders on black metal, albeit featuring a top notch production job and flawless musicianship. This track embodies Tribulation in 2013. A band that is a step ahead of most, but also willing to risk and show a little more than they should.