The Formulas Of Death
(Invictus Productions)

When the first tone on a Death Metal album immediately reminds you of THE DOORS (!) and the cover art resembles BLACK WIDOW’s "Sacrifice" in terms of colouring, lettering you’d better expect the unexpected. Sweden’s TRIBULATION’s second album "The Formulas Of Death" is such a case. Not only is it more than twice as long as 2009’s fantastic debut "The Horror", it also proves to be progressive in the most literal sense of the word. It presents a forward thinking band at the top of their game without ever tiptoeing in "modern" or overly technical territory nor turning into OPETH and – to calm down their fans – without blatantly denying their roots. "The Formulas Of Death" however marks a quantum leap in terms of creativity and inspiration and while "The Horror" was a predominantely fast opus somewhere between POSSESSED, early MORBID ANGEL, MERCILESS, album number two in TRIBULATION’s career of evil is a totally different beast that I’d personally rank among such legendary albums that revolutionized extreme Metal with new flavours. "Mental Funeral" with its taste for SABBATHian Doom, "Gothic" with its Goth / Post-Punk nuances, "Blessed Are The Sick" with its slick, diverse almost cinematic unholiness, "Spiritual Healing" with its technical groove, "Reinkaos" with its shockingly melodic lick-loving Heavy Metal. Sure, some of these albums sparked massive controversy but they belong to my absolute faves and at least I understand why: calling "The Formulas Of Death" revolutionary already now would be somewhat exaggerated, but it sonically, lyrically, visually admonishes us to not just indulge in Death Metal that reminds us of whatever dead and gone genre leader we hailed so much in the late 80s / 90s, it opens our eyes to a musical cosmos that incorporates classic influences while daring to take risks and experiment in a positive, inspiring way. My first reaction to this album was "Are these guys nuts?": opening with an atmospheric instrumental, doing a piano piece in between, two songs going over the ten minute mark, quite many relaxed, long instrumental sections with a trippy 60s / 70s prog feel (e.g. ‘Suspiria’), great choruses (‘When The Sky Is Black With Devils’), a SATYRICON-esque end part (in the fabulous ‘Wanderer In The Outer Darkness’), storming blackened chaos (‘Through The Velvet Black’), organ sounds (‘Randa’), MORBID ANGEL-riffing (‘Apparitions’), classic Metal references, DISSECTION-esque tremolo picked melodies, tons of eerie leads, less constant speed and more tempo variation ect. – TRIBULATION have expanded their sound vastly and certainly might face accusations of overtaxing the listener and going a bit too far away from their origins yet with such a stunning record as this, the quartet can lean back and react with a self-confident "It’s too much for you? Well, fuck off!" Combined with a killer production that’s warm, rich in detail, provides huge drums and enough room for all elements to shine through and perfectly transports the constant spooky atmosphere some might argue that Johannes’ very Erik / WATAIN like vocals are the last remaining connection to the debut yet I disagree, this is just an album by a band who has not wasted the past years wondering about which band next to copy but evolved immensely. It’s hard to swallow, it’s demanding, it’s unique, it’s brilliant. This is infernally cunning Death Metal and definitely should, no, MUST be heard! The old ways are torn asunder, TRIBULATION have been reborn… Hear a song here. Order it here (Europe):, (US)

Stefan Franke

Stefan Franke

Related reviews / interviews:
TRIBULATION - The Children Of The Night (Mindaugas "Plix" Lapinskas)
TRIBULATION - Putrid Rebirth (Thomas Ehrmann)
TRIBULATION - The Ascending Dead (Mirco Szymyslik)
TRIBULATION - The Horror (Matthias Auch)
TRIBULATION - interview (Stefan Franke)
TRIBULATION - interview (Ralf Hauber)

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