Album Review – Caliban / Ghost Empire (2014)

A decent Metalcore album from one of its biggest exponents in the European scene.

Rating6

Caliban_Ghost EmpireWe all know Germany is a very Heavy Metal country, with tons of important names such as Gamma Ray, Helloween, Kreator, Primal Fear, Destruction, Doro, among others, and almost all of those German bands have something in common: a very traditional approach in terms of their musicality. However, in the middle of this “cradle of tradition” there’s a band called Caliban playing a completely different type of music that people like to call Metalcore or Melodic Hardcore. Even being a band so different from their countrymen, they managed to survive through the years and gained a respectful legion of fans (you might have already seen some YouTube videos of their “Wall of Death” mosh pits in their live concerts), and now in 2014 they’re launching their 9th studio album, called Ghost Empire.

If you’re a very traditional Heavy Metal fan and do not accept anything different from what was done in the 80’s or 90’s, do not even waste your time giving Caliban a chance. What they do is more like the contemporary American Heavy Metal, with some similarities to bands like Five Finger Death Punch or Killswitch Engage, but I would say their music is a little bit more melodic than those. The first track of the album, called King, is a very good example of their modern heavy music, with singer Andreas Dörner doing a pretty decent job with his guttural vocals. It’s a good song for mosh pits, albeit I don’t like the clean vocals from Denis Schmidt at all. The next track is quite weird: Chaos – Creation starts really heavy then becomes kind of pop, but at least the riffs keep the energy high; on the other hand, Wolves And Rats is 100% heavy, especially its vocals and drums, and sounds good for some circle pits.

CalibanThe next track, nebeL, which has Bastian Sobtzick (from the band Callejon) on vocals, is a pretty cool song with an interesting chorus, while I Am Ghost has the best start of all songs and pretty heavy riffs, but gets really boring after a while. Devil’s Night has some cool lyrics and vocals and is one of the highlights of Ghost Empire, as well as yOUR Song with its awesome rhythm. These two songs should work well live and will probably be included in their future setlists. The same cannot be said about the next few tracks:  Cries And Whispers is the fastest song of the album, but the chorus sucks so bad it gets boring; Good Man is just a generic song that doesn’t make any difference to the album; and I Am Rebellion has a horrible smooth chorus. These songs explain why many diehard metal fans hate this type of heavy music with all their strength.

Fortunately the next two tracks put the album back on track: Who We Are is a lot better than previous tracks, especially due to its excellent heavy riffs; and My Vertigo is another “mosh pit” song that will please all fans of the band and even some people that know nothing about Caliban. The deluxe edition of Ghost Empire brings a very weird song called Falling Downwards, with Matt Heafy (Trivium) as guest vocalist. Matt kind of saves the song, in other words, without him it would have been the worst track of the album by far.

Last but not least, one of the best things in Ghost Empire is the album art, especially because it’s done by hand (and not by the use of a computer) and totally connects with the album name and its musicality. Maybe someone who is more into this type of heavy music would have given the album more than 2.5, but for me it lacks that punch only traditional Heavy Metal has. I wouldn’t mind checking Caliban out live at a festival here in Canada, but it’s far from becoming one of my favorite new bands.

Best moments of the album: King, Devil’s Night and yOUR Song.

Worst moments of the album: I Am Ghost, Good Man and I Am Rebellion.

Released in 2014 Century Media Records

Track listing
1. King 4:02
2. Chaos – Creation 3:30
3. Wolves And Rats 3:59
4. nebeL (feat. Bastian Sobtzick) 3:11
5. I Am Ghost 3:46
6. Devil’s Night 4:23
7. yOUR Song 4:26
8. Cries And Whispers 3:55
9. Good Man 5:07
10. I Am Rebellion 4:21
11. Who We Are 4:09
12. My Vertigo 3:15

 Deluxe edition bonus track
13. Falling Downwards (feat. Matt Heafy) 3:48

Band members
Andreas Dörner – lead vocals
Marc Görtz – guitar
Denis Schmidt – guitar, clean vocals
Patrick Grün – drums
Marco Schaller – bass guitar

Guest musicians
Bastian Sobtzick – vocals on “nebeL”
Matt Heafy – vocals on “Falling Downwards”

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