“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Much can be said for the career of Caliban, a band who made a mild ripple in 2004 with their major label debut, largely on the merits that it was produced by In Flames frontman Anders Friden and the single ‘The Beloved and the Hatred’ had significant radio and TV play on major rock channels. Caliban rose to a moderate level of success, but remained a c string 3rd level band within the metalcore, and this is where the maddening thing with them comes into play, the fact the band has never really strayed away from the rigid formula they laid down for themselves on that album. So, in short, they have basically continued to churn out the same album or variations thereof for the best part of their career, whilst expecting people to still care and their profile to rise.
Caliban at some point must have realised that their act was growing stale and they were trying to peddle a dying sound in an even deader scene and have made a little bit of an attempt to rectify things on new album “Ghost Empire”. They haven’t invented the wheel or even themselves, but they have made more a conscious effort to focus on their strengths and at least try to weed out some of the things that made them sound weaker than most in the past.
The riffs are bouncier, and land with more crunch than on previous releases, there seems to be an increased focus on electronics, processed beats in particular as well as gang vocals, and a sense of creating something anthemic. Take album opener ‘King,’ for example, this track is a perfect example of the direction the band feels that they need to be going in, and whilst it wouldn’t sound out of place on a Bring Me The Horizon or The Devil Wears Prada album it also shows the lack of imagination that plagues Caliban. They seem content to borrow ideas from all over the shop, run them through their own filter and try to call it their own, a band this far into their career should not still be chasing their own tails.
In terms of production and song writing “Ghost Empire” is a much better release than some of the band’s previous work, but one could argue that is down to the fact that there are better bands around for Caliban to copy. Maybe I’m being a little unfair, but to my ears Caliban sound like a band looking for their own identity, throwing ideas against the wall and seeing what sticks. Could “Ghost Empire” be the album that breaks them out into the mainstream? I sincerely doubt it, but it’s a perfectly serviceable, albeit somewhat recycled and repetitive, highlight reel of the current metalcore scene.