Tribulation – Hamartia (EP)


Originally known as Hazard, things really started moving for this Swedish crew when they changed their name to Tribulation in 2004, and swapped a manic brand of thrash for a more melodic death metal. The following years have found them drifting towards a more atmospheric, gothic metal sound while still retaining their death roots and their latest EP, the four track Hamartia, takes the best from both worlds and perfectly straddles the line between the two genres. Including three original tunes and a choice cover, Hamartia is certain to increase the band’s standing.

As befitting a four-track EP, Tribulation don’t waste time on fancy introductions and they get straight down to business with the opulent title-track. Clocking in at a cool six-minutes, ‘Hamartia’ is rich in symbolism and paints its sound from the darker side of the palette; Adam Zaars’ guitars scythe and slash the canvas while Johannes Andersson’s vocals echo eerily. This is undoubtedly metal, yet it has the aesthetic of an early Cure or Banshees record; it’s funereal and claustrophobic, and that sensation is heightened by the tight rhythm section that beats a solemn cadence. Punctuated by huge white spaces, ‘Axis Mundi’ continues in a similar vein but it is far more expansive than its predecessor. It creates the feeling of a vast, leaden Scandinavian sky, and one that is about to unleash a raging tempest upon the listener.

The aptly-titled ‘Hemoclysm’ is an epic, oppressive cut and one that weighs heavily with plenty of bottom end on the guitars. It sounds as if they have been dredged up from the ocean’s depths and are tethered beneath the waves by a huge anchor. Factor in some heavy lyricism and keys that descend in rapid fashion and you have a track in ‘Hemoclysm’ that revolves on a downward spiral, as if sucked towards a beckoning void. However, the soaring guitars mid-song manipulate the listener, lifting us up briefly before plunging us back into the mire at the song’s finale.

A surprise (but not unwelcome) cover of Blue Öyster Cult’s ‘Vengeance (The Path)’ closes the EP, and you get the feeling that the band are revisiting some influences on this faithful rendition. Originally appearing on BÖC’s 1981 Fire Of Unknown Origin album, Tribulation put their own stamp on ‘Vengeance’ while retaining its former shape. It’s like a whole movie soundtrack compressed into five minutes and makes for an epic closer. Which is exactly where we came in…

Track List:

  1. Hamartia
  2. Axis Mundi
  3. Hemoclysm
  4. Vengeance (The Pact)