Released: 2012, Century Media
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Caliban are spearheading the German metal scene, along with Heaven Shall burn, and are hardly a band to flinch in the face of controversy – as is shown by some of their lyrical themes. Formed in 1997 under the original moniker Never Again, the group changed their name to the Caliban label we all know and love and released their first self-titled E.P. in 1998 under Lifeforce Records. Caliban definitely display the stereotypical German efficiency, releasing albums like a well-oiled machine having had 7 full length releases in the 11 years that followed that self-titled EP (as well as releasing two split efforts with Heaven Shall Burn in 2001 and 2005). One of the most notable would be 2002’s Shadow Hearts where the band started to snowball and gain more momentum, earning them a record deal in Europe with giants Roadrunner. The follow up The Opposite from Within which was produced by Anders Fridén, who is better known for fronting Gothenburg metal group In Flames. In 2012 they announced their 8th full length album was in place to be released with 12 tracks recorded, it was said to be a continuation of 2009’s Say Hello to Tragedy.
The album opens up with a frustrated outburst of “You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me?” before you’re hit by a crushing, chugging riff, heavy and melodic in equal measure. We Are The Many is a brilliant introduction, the entire band are on the top of their game musically: Goertz and Schmidt NAIL the balance between sheer grit and melody making the song, and album as a whole sound polished and complete; Doerner’s vocals are spot-on (with lyrics that target social issues in today’s word such as media influence, internet abuse and disrespect, facism, loss and the exploitation of oil) the unstrained aggression, and perhaps frustration, shines clearly through making the delivery seem heartfelt and sincere. Plenty of blast-beats are woven in behind the Jekyll/Hyde heavy melody music by Goertz, not so many it sounds clichéd – but enough to make it a fucking beast of a soundtrack. Caliban have managed to side-step the major issue that most bands related with metalcore all run into face-first somewhere along the path… that it all sounds the same. All That Remains sounds like Shadows Fall sounds like Killswitch Engage, etc. Caliban are carving their own identity into the genre, firmly planting their flag to show you CAN do it whilst retaining your own totally separate identity.
Memorial, a track that deals with loss is one of the best on the album. Starting off with an eerie synth intro with the guitars making their way in slowly, the mood is set accurately through the music, lyrics and delivery of it all. Perhaps the song where the cleans show themselves the most, admittedly some of Schmidt’s vocals sound eerily reminiscent of As I Lay Dying it’s not to the extent that it detracts from the song in anyway. The lyics “I can still see you, you’re fading away but / I can still feel you but you’re drifting away from me” The emphasis of the last few words with a harsh vocal brings out the pain in the song. The majority of the music dies down at one point to an interlude of a drum roll, background guitars and choir like vocals. Edge of Black is another excellent track which could potential focus on one of the most relevant things to affect the planet we call Earth to date – the exploit of oil as a resource. A violin intro kicks it off, giving into total contrast of a fast and heavy guitar intro that somehow still harmonises. Shouts of “black gold, black gold” follow, and launch into a scathing criticism of the system, and a damning view on the consequences should it happen. This is one of the darkest songs on the album without shadow of a doubt.
Overall, the album is produced excellently. Everything sounds spot on, yet still has a slight bit of rawness to it. The worst thing you can do to a record is trash it with over-production. Something Caliban have steered well clear of. Everything about the musicianship is brilliant, and delivered to a tee – every single song perfectly captures the mood it’s aimed to display. Definitely the best album Caliban have released so far, and an early contender for the album of 2012.
Review by: Ollie Thomas