The Austin Chronicle

Phases & Stages

Reviewed by Michael Toland, April 24, 2015, Music

Gruesome subject matter, dissonant riffs, time-signature-smashing blast beats; what's a young death metal band to do in a subgenre now notching three decades of extremes? Diversify its portfolio. Scandinavian paragons of aural brutality including Opeth (prog), Amorphis (folk), and Entombed (rock) stomped left-hand paths, but few acts appear as capable as Tribulation of taking this musical template mainstream (gasp). The Swedish quintet outgrew the frothing traditionalism of its 2009 debut The Horror with 2013's The Formulas of Death, a prog/psych/death metal masterpiece that twisted banging heads clean off. The Children of the Night now reinvents the band once again, indulging worship of Seventies/Eighties Eurometal – Scorpions, UFO, Iron Maiden – while maintaining a death sensibility through bassist Johannes Andersson's harsh vokills and occult lyrics. Anthemic and melodic, "Melancholia" and "The Motherhood of God" reconnect with classic metal majesty; "In the Dreams of the Dead" motors on sheer rock & roll thrill. The group flaunts acid-prog mojo during "Winds" and "Holy Libations," and keyboard-driven "Cauda Pavonis" mimics a waltzing King Diamond intro expanded into full song. Only the bitter, doom-mongering "Music From the Other" sounds like the band that recorded The Horror. "The time has come to reach out," Andersson growls on opener "Strange Gateways Beckon." The Children of the Night, what music they make.


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