Caliban – Ghost Empire (Century Media)

Thursday, 6th February 2014
Rating: 7.5/10

Surely DR isn’t alone in the sentiment that it’s halfway remarkable a mid-level, often derided outfit like Caliban can still be operational in the sometimes-abhorrent sphere that is metalcore. And it’s not like the band keeps on getting knocked down and getting backed up; it’s with apathy that the Caliban is sometimes viewed. But conviction is one strong mo-fo, and the Germans are back with yet another dyed-in-the-wool platter in the form of Ghost Empire, their ninth album.

Maybe the band’s attitude toward the above sentiments are best reflected in opener “King,” where shouts of “I don’t care what people say,” and “We don’t give a fuck” ring out during a bouncy back-and-forth verse riff that’s heavy on the groove. Score one for tunnel-vision! Nevertheless, the proliferation of clean vocals are what will always get the band into the trouble; on “King” they’re floaty and fine; same with “Chaos: Creation.” On “nebel” and “Devil’s Night” they’re a miss, probably too-tight-of-pants for any real metal chap to engage in, yet they’re not quite Caliban’s main audience.

The shards of traditional metalcore (i.e. stolen Gothenburg riffs and breakdowns) come and go as they please, generally doing the general legwork on the enjoyable “Your Song” and staccato “Good Man,” which is one of the few songs where Caliban takes a step out of their 15-year box for fresh avenues. Those avenues are of the modern sort, of course, but when you’ve been doing the same thing for this long, a little variation in the mix never hurt. Caliban and progress? You don’t say.

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