Century Media Records (2012)
Named after a Shakespearean "Tempest" character and inspired by American metalcore, especially Killswitch Engage, Caliban began as a rather unremarkable metalcore German band. I never heard their debut or the sequel but the subsequent “Shadow Hearts" was decent enough to merit my temporary attention. But it was the next album, Anders Frieden (In Flames vocalist) produced "The Opposite From Within", that really impressed me and compelled me to make the purchase. Although, admittedly, the record was heavily overwhelmed with "Alive or Just Breathing", classic and by many considered the best, Killswitch Engage album (the opening almost mimics the same from "Alive..."), the roots of their own sound took in on very unique songs like "Goodbye" where savage riffing is seamlessly interspersed with gothic/doom cleans and powerful slow chords. In Flames influenced, "Salvation" was another favorite of mine. Although the band, rightfully to some degree, was accused of jumping on Killswitch Engage wagon, I still treasure this album as an example of very catchy and superbly written metal(core). But then again, I am by no means a "purist" and even tend to treat such views as immature and old fashioned. Metal is no one's registered or patented domain and anyone is free to "pollute" it with any other genre. I could not care less for preservation of "true" metal. Call me a traitor, if you must, but I see a demise in metal hastened rather than preserved by lack of progress and experimentation.
As for Caliban, I lost track of them for subsequent releases, but from the reviews I read the band seemed to be headed for a decline. They must have recognized this before recording "I Am Nemesis", because in some 90+ percent this is almost like a new band! What’s more impressive, Killswitch Engage influences have almost completely been shed while preserving the core ingredients and qualities that made "The Opposite" such fun to listen to. The songs, too, no longer blend together, and Andreas Dorner (spelled with two periods over "o" in what Germans call "umlaut") and Denis Schmidt’s vocals have never sounded nor fitted better than here. On this album Caliban can finally be called to have their own sound. Although all tracks have catchy parts, I would distinguish the first 5 songs and the two closing ones as high lights.
I am also delighted at the anti-corporate "Open Letter”, a testimony to little known fact that it is the very excesses and immorality of bias capitalism (as opposed to true capitalism, where the opportunity is TRULY equal for all) and not capitalism itself that created socialism and communism. It’s because multi-national "corporate cunts" as Caliban delightfully puts it, acting like they are accountable to no one who cause more government regulation and oversight or "change" by the likes of president Obama whose moderate Republican policies actually enable more corporate crimes than prevent them. America should not have to choose this year between a moderately conservative incumbent on one side and fascism on the other, but Caliban's position reveals that it isn't just the U.S. of A that is threatened by corporate global domination.
My own German half sister has not been paid in over 6 months because the corporate cunts did not just destroy the economy in America. They did so across the globe. Small businesses have gone bankrupt or are on the brink thereof but unlike the giant multinationals no one bailed THEM out. As a result, they don’t have money to pay their own employees. Caliban warns of the consequences in a "we're mad as hell and we won’t take it anymore" manner: "an open letter to you all, your greed will take its toll, we’re with our backs against the wall, but it’s only built to fall (on you, presumably). The allusion to Berlin wall (after all, Caliban ARE Germans) where one totalitarian system fell creating a precedent for revolution of the oppressed, in the manner of, "we kicked commie ass in 1990, we can kick your fascist ass in 2012" is palpable and I'll bet it was intended. It is not just a warning, it’s a promise. In case anyone scoffs at it, Caliban reminds them of the old "strength in numbers" truth (We Are The Many):
We are the many, like drops of water, Alone we are nothing, together we’re crushing.
We are the many, like a plague of locusts, Alone we are nothing, together we’re crushing!
So it is in America: corporate cunts scoff at individual resistance, but they're scared shitless of the masses. After all, it IS 1% ruling class vs. 99% of the oppressed! As long as the likes of the misogynist Rush Limbaugh manage to blind the, so called, conservative (only to those ignorant of history) base, the ruling class will prevail, but once EVERYONE wakes up, it will be done for.
For all the variety, songwriting and brilliant ideas, "Nemesis" does suffer from some filler and/or generic riffing. Thankfully, those mishaps are WITHIN songs and not a song is filler as a whole. Occasionally, songs appear to go nowhere or retain too much of that “old Caliban” riffing, whereby the boys sound again just like everyone else in the “mallcore” genre. Thankfully, those moments are rare and they will most likely eliminate them on their next album. Caliban seems to excel at melodic, almost gothic pieces, which are more convincing than similar shenanigans from Killswitch Engage or All That Remains, and the way they marry it to aggressive metal is also rather unique, especially since it didn’t used to be that way. Some of the instrumentation, arrangements and melody are impressively unique, even if some of it touches the dance/techno territory (“The Bogeyman”, which is one of my favorite tracks on this album), but it’s all good. They are not afraid to try new influences not necessarily metal ones, a definite plus
Overall, hardly a masterpiece, but way better than Heaven Shall Burn's last clunker (after an awesome “Iconoclast” of 2008), and I can honestly say I enjoy it every time I listen to it. It is clearly Caliban's best effort. At times where metalcore is a live undead, Caliban wants to move away from it without losing their identity, and "I Am Nemesis" is a success in this regard, almost a complete one. I am confident that their next album will hardly resemble the band known for "Shadow Hearts" or "The Opposite From Within", and that's what we call progress. Caliban is growing, maturing, having begun as Killswitch Engage clone, it finally has a its own identity.
Rating: 5 / 6
Composed by Dethster4life