Caliban have unleashed a new album entitled Elements. Their 11th full length album. Seriously, if you haven’t heard of Caliban before, where have you been? They’ve been terrorising ear drums and tearing apart venues for the last 2 decades, taking their brand of German metalcore all over the globe. Metalcore has evolved a lot over the last few years, and Caliban have evolved with it, taking every new ingredient and throwing it into their boiling pot. Elements is their newest recipe, and let me tell you; it’s tasty.
I won’t lie to you, I haven’t properly listened to these guys since The Undying Darkness way back in 2006. I’ve picked up albums here and there over the years, but I haven’t sat down and given an album an indulgent listen again until now. I have been pleasantly surprised with what I’ve heard. Modern day Caliban is a LOT heavier than the version of the band I was first introduced to all those years ago. As soon as This Is War erupts the blast beats and guitar chugs hit like a sledgehammer, and the rest of the track follows suit. The best tone setter for what’s to follow; the unexpected. Before Later Becomes Never has an almost Architects feel in places, especially noticeable in some of the riffs and the chords progressions. This also has a guest appearance from CJ McMahon of Thy Art Is Murder, his voice emerging from out of nowhere and knocked me for six. My Madness ploughs along at a really bouncy tempo and features one of the catchiest choruses on the album, as well as a super catchy and inventive main riff. This record is crammed full of metalcore ragers, such as I Am Fear, Incomplete and Sleepers Awake that all follow that classic formula of balanced anger and melody. But for me, one of the stand out tracks of this record is Masquerade. You can almost picture it being played live when you listen to it. The way it evolves as it progresses fuels the need to bang your head, and it almost becomes impossible to sit still. Some of the riffs here are simply impossible to dislike, boasting an almost nu-metal feel. Which makes sense, I suppose, when you take into consideration that Brian ‘Head’ Welch of Korn is a guest on the track. All 13 tracks on show here (15 if you have the bonus tracks, you lucky Devil, you) are proof that Caliban aren’t going anywhere any time soon. I mean if they can still write albums this heavy, why should they go anywhere?
I know it sounds cliche to say “there’s something for everyone”, but there really is. Well, maybe not if you only listen to Motown. If you only listen to Motown there’s literally nothing for you here. But if you’re a fan of metal in any of its many forms, the probability that you will find something that ticks your boxes here is pretty high. The riffs are well thought out and cleverly balance catchiness and aggression throughout. The breakdowns are gigantic throughout, and are delicately scattered throughout rather than overused. The choruses are soaring and melodically charged, possibly the best they’ve ever been in their career. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that this was a masterclass in the genre, though. The thing that lets it down for me is the songwriting in places, sometimes sounding a little samey and rushed. But perhaps they attended that masterclass, took plenty of notes, and they’ve put it all into practice here. It isn’t perfect, but it is still very good. Elements is a well oiled machine. A very well oiled machine indeed. Take it for a spin.