Sweden's Tribulation are a comprehensive group of musicians. Initially starting off as a traditional death metal act with a very well received debut album, The Horror, Tribulation showcased a more progressive side with the expansive effort on The Formulas of Death. This time they've made their biggest stylistic leap yet, which will certainly polarize the metal community.

The Children of the Night puts one of the more unique spins on the current influx of traditional metal and rock acts that have sprung up over the last few years. Filtering everything through a blackened lens, Tribulation bump into various influences that decorate the walls of a hazy heavy metal hallway.

The album opens with "Strange Gateways Beckon," with an ominous organ setting the mood for the rest of the album. A barren verse with a clean-picked guitar part counters what most would expect to be a punch in the gut opener.

"Melancholia" comes next and picks up the tempo with its punk and goth rock attitude that comes back into play in various other points of the album. After a few listens, the masterful pacing of the album truly takes hold as the band bounce back and forth between influences and tempos, giving the feeling of wandering around in a stupor down that aforementioned hallway.

One of the most notable tracks on the album is the instrumental "Själaflykt." After a dirgy two minutes, the band spends the remaining four minutes building on a simple guitar motif that closely carries over into the next highlight, "The Motherhood of God." Melodic leads are few and far between on The Children of the Night, but when the Iron Maiden-esque guitar harmonies present themselves towards the end of the song, the band remind you that they haven’t forgot about one of the most quintessential aspects of its traditional metal influences.

For the uncompromising metal extremist, "Strains of Horror" and the closing track "Music From the Other" are mid-paced songs that wouldn’t sound out of place on the band’s preceding record. These two songs help level the balance between triumphant chord progressions and Tribulation’s influences from earlier in their career.

The Children of the Night offers a refreshing take on a beloved style with enough extreme metal elements in tact that should please fans on both sides of the fence. Some may get it immediately, some may need to give this a few spins to get it, and some may never get it at all.

For those who don’t get it, don’t worry. With history as evidence, Tribulation will have something entirely different to serve up on the next album, which will come with high anticipation. Rather than trying to reinvent the wheel making album after album in the same vein, the band elects to change the tires on the Tribulation chassis. We’ll see what happens next when these tires, too, go bald.