The opening song “Strange Gateways Beckon” cements their new area of musical and lyrical focus, evident in the tracks name. An eerie organ followed by single piano notes builds the intro slowly. On the first listen one may be disappointed to not have their head ripped from their shoulders by raw audio audacity. However, the album is more centred around mid-tempos and lyrical verses. In other words, it’s more ‘In The Nightside Eclipse’ (Emperor) than ‘Evangelion’ (Behemoth). This allows the listener to be drawn deeper into the music.
“Melancholia” is an interesting song. It sounds like a cross between Iron Maiden and The Misfits. The guitar is very punk rocky throughout most of the verses and if it wasn’t for that fact that frontman and bass player, Johannes Andersson wasn’t such a fantastically dark metal vocalists, this wouldn’t work at all. It does however and injects a bit of fun into the album.
“In The Dreams Of The Dead” follows this more traditional form of songwriting with a riff that could have come straight from the Tipton and Downing axe grinder. Jakob Ljungberg‘s drumming on this track is reminiscent of Emperor skin beater, Faust. The style is very minimal, opposing the speed race which can often over shadow the genre. This is both a blessing and a curse. In places this approach works incredibly well but all too often it gets monotonous and dull and we find ourselves begging for a drum fill.
Instrumental “Själaflykt” gives the guitar players Jonathan Hultén and Adam Zaars a chance to enter the spotlight. The track is built around chordal parts from guitar one whilst guitar two focuses on motifs and melody. This song like “The Motherhood Of God” again nods back to a more traditional form of songwriting, showing with style the mix of black, death and traditional metal that Tribulation have to offer.
“Strains Of Horror” is musically more haunting than anything we’ve previously heard. It is similar to the medieval vibe of old Opeth which is again demonstrated on “Holy Libations”. “Cauda Pavonis” is the another instrumental and being the second to last song of the album, it’s unclear what it has to offer and why it’s there at all. It feels as though they wrote two opening tracks to the album but didn’t have the heart to can one.
There is still room for Tribulation to grow artistically but overall, ‘The Children Of The Night’ was an album that delivered more with every listen. Like great pieces of art, the experience isn’t fully observed on first inspection. Unlike the majority of popular blackened death acts of our time, Tribulation have built upon the traditional formula of the past rather than the present. The extremities are stripped to allow the succinct songwriting to be at the forefront; where it always should be.