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Best Death Metal Album of the Decade? - 100%

__Ziltoid__, February 1st, 2011

Surprise! More Swedish death metal! Well, sort of. Tribulation released one of the finest records of 2009 with their full-length debut, The Horror, however it’s much more than just 90s Swedeath worship. Instead, this feels like a hybrid of styles, seemingly drawing heavy influence from the Swedish death metal scene, while also taking some influence from the Floridian death metal scene and the German thrash metal scene. While the Swedeath is certainly the dominant force on this album, the combined influence of the other two lead to this sounding incredibly familiar, yet also quite unique. All of that, combined with perfect execution lead to this album being one of the best death metal albums of the past decade.

If the album title wasn’t enough, the 16 second intro makes it perfectly clear that this is a horror-themed album. By that, I mean the cheesy kind of horror from all those movies back in the day. Well, once that’s over with, ‘Crypt of Thanatophilia’ starts things off really well, being one of the riff-iest songs on this album. This song is literally all over the place (in the best possible way), with seamless transitions from one aggressive part to another. In addition, this song introduces us to the fact that Tribulation are not at all afraid to implement simple, groove-laden riffs into the picture. While that’s normally a scary proposition, Tribulation pull it off very well, not abusing said riffs and instead letting them fit in their particular moment and then quickly moving on.

‘Beyond the Horror’ has one of the thrashiest riffs on this album, and it’s here where the thrash influence is at its most obvious. I tend to not be a fan of thrash mainly because it feels like a more restrained death metal, but here, the thrash riffs work wonders, especially with the high-pitched death metal vocal style implemented.

Since I’ve covered the Swedish and German parts of this album’s sound, I guess I might as well mention the parts that sound like Floridian death metal. One of my personal favorite Floridian moments on this album is the really simple riff at the 1:50 mark in ‘Sacreligious Darkness.’ Holy fuck, that thing is catchy as fuck, and the accompanying cymbal rhythm compliments it wonderfully!

The album closes on a particularly Swedish note, with ‘Graveyard Ghouls’ sounding about as Swedish as it gets. This might just be the most ferocious song here, with blistering blastbeats and fucking heavy riffs. The slow section in the middle just screams of building up tension, and of course we’re treated to one of the catchiest riffs on the album right after. At this point, the Floridian influence comes in for one last time, and with one final intense scream, this album is sadly over as the music fades out.

Despite the fact that there’s not really any black metal influence here, I feel like I must make a comparison to Necrophobic. Like Necrophobic, Tribulation have created a very catchy death metal album that is full of clear and melodic lead guitar melodies, while also boasting one of the most genuine vocal performances I’ve heard in a long time. If anything, the vocal performance is what reminds me most of Necrophobic. It’s very similar, except less restrained. Thus, it seems a bit more fierce, but is less controlled, and thus less clear as to what is being said.

The Horror is easily one of the best modern death metal albums, while also being one of the most varied I’ve heard in quite awhile in terms of influences. These influences are seamlessly incorporated into Tribulation’s sound, making for an album that any respectable fan of death metal should enjoy. If you like Swedish death metal, this will appeal to you. If you like Floridian death metal, this should be something that you might like despite overall being more intense than any Floridian band. If you like German thrash, but not death metal, try this as a transitional album. Simply put, this is an excellent, top-tier death metal album that easily competes with the best of the death metal greats.

Written for http://thenumberoftheblog.com/