Tribulation – Hamartia

Tribulation - Hamartia EP Cover Artwork

Over the past few years, Tribulation have weathered some trying and testing times. After releasing their fifth full length album Where The Gloom Becomes Sound during the pandemic, the band lost one half of their creative brain. With guitarist and co-songwriter Jonathan Hulten leaving the band, the remaining three members called upon their long-time friend Joseph Tholl, bringing him into the fold. As they started to form the new beating heart of the band, blood began pumping through its veins once again and the Hamartia EP is what they have to show for it. 

Considering this is essentially a transitional EP between projects as the band tries to find their groove again, it’s no surprise that there aren’t a whole lot of left turns to be found. That doesn’t mean that their quality control is any lesser and that there aren’t intricacies at play. In fact, Axis Mundi (track two of four) hints at some unexplored ground for the band. As the first song primarily written by Tholl, it dives into historic context whilst framing it through a dystopian sci-fi lens.

From the opening line on the project’s title track, “For as they walk through life’s valley with a standard of death, death will follow”, you know you’re still in the presence of the Tribulation of old. Axis Mundi however creates this gothic look at a future world, think Blade Runner if it was made by Fritz Lang. Whilst the vocals are what grounds their sound in darkness, the guitar work is where all the emotion comes from and they do a great job here of creating this spiralling citadel where not everything is as it seems. 

Creating a slightly different atmosphere with the guitar work is a really interesting way for Tribulation to continue what they are doing in a fresh way. As the band settles into their new creative process and pushes each other further, it’ll be very interesting to see whether their sound continues to grow in scale whilst maintaining their distinctive sound as the most evil rock band around. Tracks Hamartia and Hemoclysm aren’t going to be staples of their setlists for years to come but they’re both worth your time when diving into their catalogue. 

The final track on the EP is an absolute no-brainer of a cover. Whilst the band themselves have admitted that they were worried about making Blue Oyster Cult’s Vengeance (The Pact) worse by adding harsh vocals, it works perfectly. Though it may not be something they’re accustomed to, the band uses clean vocals here in a way that does the original song justice without washing over their own stamp on the material. When the band’s sound is already built on juxtaposing heavy vocals and dark lyrics with energetic rock music, this track fits like a glove. They’ve simply turned that dial even further towards melody but accentuated the darkness hidden in the song by giving the track more metal vocals. As far as Blue Oyster covers go, this one is a home run. 

On Hamartia, Tribulation prove that they’re one of the most consistent bands around. Some very intriguing new ideas briefly rear their heads and going forward, it’ll be very exciting to see how their sound grows as a result of their new creative process. With all that being said, if you’re already a fan and want a handful of strong material to add into your daily rotation, then this EP delivers that. It speaks to the creativity within the band that even a rudimentary stepping stone project like this would come out shaped like a sculpted cathedral. 

Hamartia is available now via Century Media.

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