“I Am Nemesis” is the eight studio album from German metalcore band Caliban and sees the five-piece moving up a notch in terms of heaviness from earlier works such as 2003’s “Shadow Hearts”. The basic song structures are pretty much the same as they’ve always been with Caliban but everything has been tweaked a little to sound a bit tighter and more polished, not to mention a bit more groove.
The album starts with the brutal “We are the Many,” which really sets out the stall as far as the rest of the album is concerned. Layers of double-bass drums and Fear Factory-esque backing synths blend to decent effect over a riff straight from the metalcore handbook. And herein lies the problem with this album, as most of the riffs – and by extension, songs – roll out one after the other with little to distinguish one from the other. By the time of “Deadly Dream” halfway through the album you’ve heard pretty much everything the album has to offer in terms of style, and although Caliban obviously have a passion for what they do and are seemingly trying to make a definitive moment in their back catalogue there is very little here that you haven’t heard before.
The clean vocals provided by guitarist Denis Schmidt do nothing but date their metalcore sound to a period about ten years ago when every band and his brother was doing the clean/barked vocal trade-offs, and although admittedly metalcore is a pretty limited genre with what you can do before you become something else and lose your hardcore fanbase, merely repeating the good bits of previous output again and again will soon wear thin.
But that said, there are a few moments that raise the eyebrow and grab the attention. Caliban have always been good at breakdowns, even if pretty much every song has one, but on the likes of the punishing “Dein R3Ich” the contrast between the brutal and the melodic seems to work better than on the likes of the workmanlike “Broadcast to Damnation”. Those moments are in there somewhere, and fans of Caliban will probably love this album regardless, but generally this is well played, well produced metalcore-by-numbers.