Saturday, June 9, 2012

Review: Tribune - Elder Lore / The Dark Arts (2012)

Tribune [ Website | Facebook | Bandcamp ]
Elder Lore / The Dark Arts
Corpse Corrosion Music

Tribune - Elder Lore The Dark Arts
Sporting a remarkable cover designed by bass player Ryan O'Shea, Tribune's (pronounced TRY-bune) latest album Elder Lore / The Dark Arts is an ornate mix of contemporary metallic styles. Although it's easy and wholly appropriate to slap the "progressive death metal" tag on the Canadian five-piece, there are some interesting underpinnings to the band's sound that solicit a broader classification.

Elder Lore / The Dark Arts, Tribune's sophomore full-length release, is comprised of eight tracks spanning two eras of the band's history. Three of the tracks were written prior to Shawn Culley joining the band as a second guitarist, after which his contributions have been fully exploited during the songwriting process. The songs from both incarnations of Tribune are intermingled on Elder Lore / The Dark Arts, resulting in a balanced exploration of the band's evolution. There seems to be a greater emphasis on proggy guitar stylings with the "newer" tracks, but the relatively slight differences in sound are bridged together by frontman Bryan Baker's variety of vocal approaches.

The first track, "It Came From The Swamps", is one of the tracks considered to be part of The Dark Arts portion of the album. Though Baker gets things going with a deep-throated death howl, he soon takes on a somewhat monotone, clean chanting style. Later, but still within the same song, Baker explodes into a high-pitched screamcore delivery. The remainder of the album finds Baker ping-ponging between these three styles in what I suspect is an attempt to appeal to as many metal fanatics as possible. He is proficient in all three modes of delivery, though his clean approach is the weakest and in need of the most reinforcement.

Photo: Matt Neumann
The two songs that stand head and shoulders above the rest are the aforementioned lead-off track and album closer "The World's Greatest Cynic", the latter being one of the Elder Lore group. The Swamp Thing-inspired "It Came From The Swamps" has a decadent Southern sludge tone to the swirling riffs and a couple of finely distorted solos to go along with O'Shea's very distinct bass. Every track, for that matter, finds O'Shea's contributions front-and-center. Never flashy, though "Below" does kick off with a bit of a solo, the prominent bass lines throughout Elder Lore / The Dark Arts are a welcome addition to the mix. Finishing off the album is "The World's Greatest Cynic", a song that perhaps best exemplifies Tribune's approach to crafting heavy metal. Baker runs the gamut of his styles, of course, but throughout the track's 9-minute runtime we're treated to everything from a nice melodic opening to slappy bass lines and grinding riffs, all which are held together by a complex and varied pace.

Due to its varying textures, Elder Lore / The Dark Arts is an album that most will either love or hate. Tribune are, musically speaking, loaded for bear and aren't hesitating to use all of the weapons at their disposal - to the point of even including a drum solo in the middle of "Below". They thankfully fall short of the purely chaotic, though, which makes this Vancouver-area band's latest output worth a closer look.

Track Listing
1It Came From The Swamps5:43
2The Succubus3:14
3Chemistry Arrives6:11
4The Warrior Mentality5:27
6We The Black5:56
7Man On The Outside4:54
8The World's Greatest Cynic9:10
Total Runtime47:24

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