Say Hello To Tragedy

Written by: BL on 19/12/2009 20:58:56

Sometimes I forget how long this band has been around - releasing their first EP in 1998 and now after six full lengths is onto number seven with "Say Hello To Tragedy". Over the last couple of albums Caliban have really honed in their not-so-unique sound of melodic death metal riffing meets breakdowns and clean vocal choruses, yes the 'classic' metalcore sound Killswitch Engage and As I Lay Dying have made so popular to the masses. But while their originality is always questionable, they've at least always been fairly consistent.

It's a rather standard affair really if you know the last album in particular. There hasn't been much of a stylistic change in any noticeable sense but it isn't quite the last album either because this manages to feel like a natural progression. The dark and brooding atmosphere on "The Awakening" has been amplified and brought to life just a little more thanks to Killswitch guitarist Adam D's mixing (who also handled the last album) - the way the breakdown shifts on the first track "24 Years" feels great because of the now more present ambient keyboards which haunt the other tracks beautifully. The clean vocals from guitarist Denis Schmidt are more sparse than they've ever been as well and are no longer confined to appear only in choruses but rather at various moments without any rulebook (with "Walk Like The Dead" having the most). It's an attempt to get more of a fluid feel in the songs, because in the past you could probably interchange all their songs' parts and come up with a 'Caliban' track because it was so mechanical.

The guitar work remains mostly predictable as you would imagine, but again that has always been the case with Caliban. A whole slew of aggressive yet tasteful melodic death metal harmonised riffs, galloping rhythms and chugging breakdowns are the weapons of choice and Denis Schmidt and Marc Goertz plays them as good as they've ever been. Also despite being so genre confined and now dated as well its all strung together well thankfully. This is helped further by Patrick Grün's reliably adept drum work which is technically not that imaginative but connects the pieces together like an old jigsaw puzzle and again thanks to the mixing - sounds fantastic. While the drums form the foundation at the bottom along with some generic bass guitar, Andreas Dörner's growls and anguished screams have always been a unique part of Caliban's core sound on top. His voice distinct with the German accent coming through and combined with the harrowing atmosphere in the songs, makes getting immersed in the music easier if you're a metalcore aficionado.

And really that's the only way you're going to get anything more than a run-of-the-mill listening experience out of this record. A little less of a Killswitch Engage/As I Lay Dying wannabe these days than The Sorrow but still occasionally retaining that feel, it's still not going to impress anyone who has a distaste for anything with a -core suffix. That and this actual type of melodic death metal infused metalcore is not as popular as it used to be. Personally though the songs are well written enough for me to ride through comfortably and the atmosphere and the production value is great as always. Caliban have brought the goods without doing any more than what is asked of them.


Download: Walk Like The Dead, No One Is Safe, Unleash Your Voice
For the fans of: Killswitch Engage, As I Lay Dying, The Sorrow
Listen: Myspace

Release date 24.08.2009
Century Media

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