Tribune – Elder Lore / The Dark Arts (Corpse Corrosion Music, 20 March 2012)
Whenever I discover a new band, I usually try to learn as much as I can about them, including where they come from. If it’s a country or a city I’m not especially familiar with, occasionally I’ll hit Wikipedia and see if there are any interesting facts to be learned there. Maybe I’m just a major dork, I don’t know. Whatever. Sometimes I like to look at a map of where a band comes from, just to see where it is in relation to things I do know about. This is how I discovered that the city of Burnaby, British Columbia, is right next to Vancouver, near the Pacific coast and just above the U.S./Canada border. Playing with the settings a bit, I found myself looking at a topographic map of that general area. In this way, I found that Burnaby is surrounded by a few lakes, and most of the land seems to be pretty close to sea level anyway. From that I would surmise that there just might be a good bit of swamps or marshlands near that area.
Now, I wasn’t just randomly seeking out information on the geographic characteristics of various cities in Canada. No, I was learning about Burnaby because it’s home to the band Tribune*, to whose recently-released double-EP Elder Lore / The Dark Arts I had just been listening. The blend of riffs and vocals they incorporate into their particular version of death metal might give you the impression that they come from the same backwater bayou country as Down or Crowbar, rather than the frozen tundra of British Columbia, which is what set me on that particular path of research. But anyway, hometown notwithstanding, these guys have put together a combination of styles that I’ve decided to call stoner/death metal. You just need to check it out to see what I mean.
* By the way — I don’t know if it’s a Canadian thing or what, but I’ve learned that the band’s name is pronounced differently than I originally thought. It’s actually supposed to be “TRY-bune” (as in “tribunal”), rather than “TRIB-une” (as in “tribute”).
This release is an eight-track full-length album, but you may have noticed that I referred to it as a double-EP. That’s because the band went into the recording sessions for their last release with enough quality material to fill an album, but only had the resources to record a few of those songs. Those turned into their 2009 EP Rotting Core. The three songs (“Chemistry Arrives,” “Below,” and “The World’s Greatest Cynic”) that were leftover from that period are now seeing the light of day on this new release, as the Elder Lore part of the album. An additional five songs ( “It Came from the Swamps,” “The Succubus,” “The Warrior Mentality,” “We the Black,” and “Man on the Outside”) were written since that time, and these comprise the The Dark Arts portion. However, it’s not as simple as a Side A/Side B deal — the two sets of songs have been shuffled together and sequenced as a proper LP.
“It Came from the Swamps” opens the proceedings, leaving no doubt of the type of influences the band is working with here, between the song title and the sound effects of frogs and crickets that fade into the music. But then right off the bat it burts into some heavy death metal territory, with growled vocals, very sludgey, slow-paced, and deep. Soon, though, they add in some clean harmony voices in combination with the other part. Some of the riffing here brings to mind a heavier, more death metal version of Down.
Most of the songs here seamlessly blend a progressive, technical style of death metal with a more swampy, stoner metal feel. Considering the song structures and the reliance on riffs that are inherent in both genres, the union works out pretty well. “Chemistry Arrives” starts off kind of fast and deathy but then practically turns into a Clutch song; “Below” also is built on stoner riffs and Clutch-like clean singing, with perhaps some Alice in Chains style harmonies (in particular I am reminded of the song “Dirt” from the album of the same name).
“The Warrior Mentality” brings a shade of The Sword to some of the riffs here, but also turns up the complexity level in the overall structure, in a way that resembles tech-metal a bit at the same time. “We the Black” again combines death vocal styling with cleaner stoneresque singing; this song slows down near the middle for a cool guitar solo that features some of the album’s most techy-sounding backing tracks behind it – bringing to mind someone like Cephalic Carnage.
Two of my favorite songs from the album are “Man on the Outside,” which has about as memorable of a hook as you are likely to hear in the realm of stoner metal, and the closing track “The World’s Greatest Cynic” (also the longest to be found here), which starts out very reminsicent of Clutch in the way the lyrics have a very narrative format, as well as the nearly-monotonous talk-singing style. This song is also built around a long series of often-repeated riffs, which again reminds me of The Sword.
The album’s first “single” (perhaps chosen because it’s the only song less than five minutes long?), is “The Succubus”; it demonstrates, as well as any of the others, the wide range of influences these guys have melded together so well. This song can be downloaded free via Bandcamp…
Also on Bandcamp you are able to stream the rest of the songs, and you can buy a download or CD copy, or a t-shirt, there as well.
Tribune are currently in the midst of a tour across parts of Canada and the U.S.; it’s about halfway over by now but you can find the full list of dates below, in case you live near any of the cities they haven’t yet visited…
**UPDATE 10 May: Three new Canadian dates have just been added to the list, see those highlighted below…
April 12, 2012 -The Fun House – Seattle, WA
April 13, 2012 – Plan B – Portland, OR
April 14, 2012 – The Black Forest – Eugene, OR
April 18, 2012 – On The Y – Sacramento, CA
April 21, 2012 – Cheyenne Saloon – Las Vegas, NV
April 23, 2012 – UB’s – Mesa, AZ
April 26, 2012 – Zombies – San Antonio, TX
April 27, 2012 – O’Riley’s – Dallas, TX
April 28, 2012 – Sam’s Lounge – Jackson, MS
May 4, 2012 – Pick Wick Pub – Poughkeepsie, NY
May 6, 2012 – Bogie’s – Albany, NY
May 11, 2012 – Underworld – Montreal QC
May 12, 2012 – Frite Alors – Montreal, QC
May 13, 2012 – The Canadian Night Club – Sault Ste. Marie, ON
May 15, 2012 – Ozzys – Winnipeg, MB
May 16, 2012 – Amigos – Saskatoon, SK
May 17, 2012 – The Vat – Red Deer, AB
For more info on any of these shows, or to RSVP, check out the Facebook event page.