Posted on by Oran

With Tribulation’s new studio album ‘Where The Gloom Becomes Sound’ finally released today [Jan 29th], Overdrive caught up with guitarist Adam Zaars to talk about the recent line-up changes, the effects of the pandemic on their touring plans and more…

It’s safe to say that the last few months have been a turbulent one for Sweden’s masters of gloom.

The sudden departure of guitarist Jonathan Hueltén certainly came as a shock to those who admire the band, and to be honest, questions of their future began to cross minds despite the announcement of ex-Enforcer guitarist, Joeseph Tholl.

Taking a deeper look into the bands’ current situation proved to show a thankfully strong and confident Tribulation who are just happy to finally release ‘Where Gloom Becomes Sound‘ their fifth full-length opus, despite the grim reality of not being about to tour.

Guitarist, Adam Zaars sat down with Overdrive to chat about the series of events that took place, from guitarist Jonathan Hultén’s sudden departure to the arrival of Joseph, working on new ideas and much more.

© Ester Segarra 2021

OD – The release of ‘Where The Gloom Becomes Sound’ has finally arrived, however,  we understand you have been sitting on this album for a long time. Does it fell surreal to be finally releasing the album now, in spite of all the changes and the fact that this music is now a year old at this point?

ADAM – Yes, and it’s really down to two factors. Firstly, Covid-19 has really had a huge effect on things as well as making this past year the longest ever [Laughing]. That’s the feeling anyway. It really feels like we recorded this album years ago!

The other factor is that our guitarist, Jonathan [Hultén] recently quit the band. So in those respects, it really does feel a bit strange that the album is coming out now.

OD –  You had commented in some other press that work has already begun on writing new material, is this true and if so, is there any difference in the overall sound/approach now that Jonathan is no longer with the band?

ADAM – I can’t really answer the second part of the question, but what I meant with new material is that I’ve just been gathering some material, as it comes naturally to me but there hasn’t been a very concentrated attempt on writing new material as that statement would suggest.

When our new guitar player Joseph [Tholl, Enforcer] joined the band, there was a kind of natural ‘spark‘ which led to some waves of creativity and inspiration. To put it into context, I’m recording small ideas on my phone, so to be honest, I can’t really comment on what the overall feeling or sound is because I don’t really know myself [Laughing]. It’s very early days…

OD –  Could you see Tribulation releasing an EP between now and the next studio album?

ADAM – Usually we only like to release albums and sometimes we’ve had the idea of doing an EP and it kind of always felt like a waste when we could be either recording a full-blown album.

Funnily enough, Joseph and I were talking about this just a few days ago. We spoke about trying out a possible concept of working on an EP, but I’m not really sure if anything is going to come of that but at this point, who knows? To date, I’ve only had this conversation with Joseph and not the rest of the band.

© Ester Segarra 2021

OD –  When Jonathan made the decision to leave, did you have Joseph in mind or did you have to work out a suitable list of possible guitarists to take his [Johnathan’s] place?

ADAM – Yeah, he was really a front runner. I can’t really say what would have happened if he had not joined the band but at the time if he had not agreed to join, I guess we would have just stopped the band completely. We had been talking about Joseph before with regards to the position and that’s really about as far as we got. I’m not sure what would have happened for sure, but everything just worked out in the end.

OD – How long have you guys known Joseph prior to him being part of the band?

ADAM – A long, long time! [Laughing] Both Johannas [Andersson, bass/vocals] and I have known Joseph since we were kids. In fact, Johannas and Joseph’s parents go back a long way and myself and Joseph started our first band; when we were 13-years old.

OD –  Having to deal with line-up charges is a headache in any situation but having to work around things under the pressure of a delayed-release date and a new album which you can’t tour just yet because of the pandemic, is a stress I can’t imagine. Was there any moments of panic, or did you just take a deep breath and approached it calmly?

ADAM – Well, I would say we experience both panic and confidence. The panic was in thinking about getting in a van and going back out there on the road as we did 10-years ago. That’s still a possibility I guess. We are one of those bands that might have to lower our fee because of this pandemic.

We’ve been building this slowly and steadily for a long time and we were finally in a position to hire crew members that can build/create a proper show and then having to go backwards…well, it seems like such a waste considering how much we’ve all invested in this. So, we took that deep breath and pushed forward. We’ll just have to see what happened. With regards to the album, we just stuck to the plan and kept the original release date.

We would have been going out on tour now but that’s just something that can’t happen as you know. We don’t work alone and have labels and PR people whos opinions and information is all taken into consideration when we make decisions on things.

© Ester Segarra 2021

OD – Was there any hesitation to hold back the album any longer seeing as there are no signs of being able to tour to promote?

ADAM – We all decided to just stick with the plan in spite of the pandemic and I personally feel that we are releasing something new for people that are stuck at home and who are bored and missing live shows and their friends/family etc.

OD –  There is a real sense of post-punk structure/melodies more so on this album, with ‘Leviathans’, being an example. Do you feel that it’s important to delve into other genres and incorporate them into the Tribulation sound, or does that just happen by default?

ADAM – I would totally agree with the Post-Punk influence on the album. We do set up certain goals, but don’t really see them as “goals” that we want to achieve, but something more like a light in the dark and then eventually we’ll see some different kind of light somewhere else and decide to follow that route instead. That’s always how we work.

We didn’t really talk about the direction we wanted to go with this album. We had our own little world that we’ve been building. That’s inspiration enough for us. We know what we’re doing we let it happen and then when we have some solid material we tweak it to the ‘Tribulation‘ sound.

OD –  Did you notice a different side to the industry on that tour with regards to the business/marketing side of things as Ghost depend heavily on the visual branding and marketing aspects when promoting their music?

ADAM -Yes, it’s always interesting to see the mechanism behind things. It’s kind of sad in one way that when I go to a show now, I kind of know what will be going on behind the scenes and in some way, it takes away from the experience. The romanticism of the live show is somewhat fractured for me now [Laughing].

It’s also really interesting to see how different bands’ tackle problem-solving. There is just so much to learn from all of the experience. I’m always really interested in being backstage on big production shows like that.

OD – Did you see a considerable increase in popularity from doing that run of dates with Ghost?

ADAM – To be honest, I’m not really an ‘online’ kind of person. We have someone that looks after the social media side of things, but from what I could see each night, the reaction to our performance was really positive.

It’s hard to really equate that right now because when we did those shows we went to Russia for a handful of dates and that’s about all we’ve done in the last year or so because of the pandemic. I’m kind of curious to see if anything happens in the coming months, but I fear it’s not going to be until at least next year; before things return to normal.

© Ester Segarra 2021

OD –  With regards to the heavy music that’s coming out of Sweden of late, do you think that it’s in a good place, or can you see that things are starting to dilute; as most things do after a period of time?

ADAM – I wouldn’t really know to be honest as I don’t live in Stockholm anymore. Joseph just released a solo album ‘Devils Drum‘ and our old drummer [Jakob Ljungberg] just released a new album with his band ‘Second Sun‘ and we have a couple of really popular Podcasts that are only devoted to Swedish Rock and Metal. Oh, there’s another band you should check out called “Deadlord‘, who have a great album called ‘Surrender‘.

Then, of course, you’ve got Lucifer and The Hellacopters, who just played as the house band on a very popular Swedish TV show. So, there is lots going on here right now. I wouldn’t really know if it’s a saturated scene but it seems pretty healthy right now.

OD –  Finally, in your opinion, what is the most perfect album in your collection?

ADAM – Well, I would say any Iron Maiden album, but if I had to pick one I’d say ‘Seventh Son of a Seventh Son‘, that album is just fantastic. Also, there’s ‘Earth Inferno‘, the live album from Fields of Nephilim. I love that album because there’s a perfect mix of songs from their discography on there and it’s just so good.

Tribulation, ‘Where the Gloom Becomes Sound‘ is out now via Metal Blade. Order your copy here. Check out the Overdrive review of the album here.

Overdrive recently spoke to former Tribulation guitarist, Jonathan Hultén, get the feature interview here.

Oran O’Beirne

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Photos – © Ester Segarra 2021