Stormy duo Tribunal add dark, gothic shadow to doom metal on ‘The Weight of Remembrance’

Photo by Liam Kanigan

This is the ideal time of the year to lustily embrace darkness, because there is a premium on sunshine, and seasonal affective disorder is running rampant, making people feel like they’re decaying on the inside. It’s strange because I enjoy this time of year since I like snow and ice, and working remotely makes awful roads moot, but it’s still sometimes hard to avoid the grim grasp of mental illness.

That means it’s also a great time for music that wallows in the hopelessness with you, and Vancouver’s Tribunal arrive with their foreboding debut album “The Weight of Remembrance” at the right moment. The duo of classically trained bassist/cellist/vocalist Soren Mourne and guitarist/vocalist Etienne Flinn unleashes seven tracks that are awash in gothic doom and orchestral drama, and it digs right to the core of the weightiness of the season in which we’re trapped. Not lyrically, mind you. This is more shit I’ve connected in my own head from the music, which I’ve visited quite a bit later at night when it’s quiet in the house, and contemplation is at its zenith. And when I’m peacefully high, if we’re being honest. My Dying Bride, Paradise Lost, and Draconian disciples are bound to gravitate to this album, and with good reason as Tribunal walk similar paths, but with their own brand of grimness.

“Initiation” sets the mood early, letting stormy doom waters lap over the land and coat it with darkness. Flinn’s growls dig into your chest, and Mourne’s singing treats the ugliness with cold delicacy as the funereal pace stretches. The trudging adds pressure as Mourne calls over the flames, the chorus making one final dash. “Of Creeping Moss and Crumbled Stone” slowly dawns and lurches, growls making headway and leaving bruising, Mourne’s singing adding chill to your bones. The chorus punches and then sinks into guttural boiling and liquified murkiness that makes it feel uncomfortably chilling. Leads soar in the shadows, synth creates an impenetrable cloud, and the drubbing rhythms bury you in the soil. “Apathy’s Keep” lets icy guitars drip and sorrowful melodies melt, Mourne’s singing making your nerve endings pulsate. Growls lean into ashy grounds, morbid spirits rise, and shrieks rip, keeping the pace turning and jolting, strings scraping a clean path. “Remembrance” is an instrumental built with unsettling keys and elegant ambiance, bone-chilling rains falling and making your limbs shake viciously.

“A World Beyond Shadow” lets string run loose as the pace smashes, Mourne’s singing sending jolts down the spine, Flinn’s growls balancing the delicacy with horrors. Darkness drizzles as the guitars tear through, ripping things open, the drumming rattling and punishing forcefully. Scathing howls and drama combine, letting the embers surge before fading. “Without Answer” has gliding strings, deadly growls, and a tempo that picks up and forces blood to race. Leads glimmer like a laser through a thickening fog, the growls are thorns to the ribcage, and both voices combine for a sullen final nail in the coffin. Closer “The Path” runs 12:16, dawning in dreary weather, dark paths being trampled underfoot. Growls rip as gargantuan hell is unleashed, the playing enraptures, and a deep burn seems to chafe the soul. Flinn’s growls and Mourne’s voice again are strange but fitting companions, sowing sadness and misery, accompanying a crushing force that kicks up and brings brutality to an otherwise ghostly final encounter.

Tribunal’s stranglehold on gothic and drab darkness is a revelation on their great debut “The Weight of Remembrance,” a record that feels like it pushes down on your chest and psyche over these seven tracks. The album feels like a haunted journey in your mind, leaving you cold and wondering where you can escape for a even a gasp of light that never seems to come. Every drop if this is heavy both musically and emotionally, and you’ll feel its effects long after the music has ended.

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