REVIEW: CALIBAN – “Gravity”
German stalwarts Caliban, formed in 1997, are a five-piece outfit featuring Andy Dorner on vocals, Marc Gortz on guitar, Denis Schmidt on guitar, Marco Schaller on bass and Patrick Grun on drums. The band hail from Essen, Germany. Over the past nine years, Caliban have gone from strength and strength and by evolving their styles, have showcased their musical prowess in important Live shows and a slew of releases- two EPs, two split albums and eight studio albums. ‘Gravity’, all set to be released on March 25 via Century Media is going to be their ninth studio album. ‘Gravity’ was produced by Benny Richter and guitarist Marc Gortz, co-produced by Marcel Neumann and was recorded at Gortz’s Nemesis Studio. Marc Gortz also did the mixing along with Klaus Scheuermann.
This album advances into new dimensions by incorporating a good deal of clean vocals. Besides this change, it also showcases well-thought out orchestral arrangements and highlights both these elements in the forefront. Despite these changes, the album continues to maintain the heaviness and power that Caliban is known for, especially in the power-packed riffs and the drumming throughout the album.
The first track on the album, “Paralyzed” features signature Caliban elements like a heavy and melodic feel despite sounding raw and aggressive. It begins with a fade-in intro leading to fierce riffs kicking in and cutting through the roaring vocals. The song features a melodic and catchy chorus which renders it memorable. Caliban often keep a song dedicated to their native language. Hence, “Mein schwarzes Herz” follows with a solid approach evident in the ferocious riffs and remarkable basslines and drumming. “Who Am I” features opening vocals which sound like a slight misstep. However, the song has got some variety with changing tempos. It seems to struggle a bit with djenty riffs trying to keep up with the overall melodic essence of the album. Nevertheless, some customary Caliban elements save the song, like the catchy choruses and melodies. “Left For Dead” is one of the heaviest songs on the album, rendered so by crushing breakdowns, notable riffs and vocals. “Crystal Skies” showcases the compositional skills of the band with intricacies like guitar layers and other memorable aspects, while “Walk Alone” is driven by clean vocals and features some cool guitar solos. The cinematic essence of “Walk Alone” is carried on in “The Ocean’s Heart” which showcases an amazing build up from the guitars to explosive drum fills following which the band kicks in.
“brOken” is the finest song on the album! It bears a fresh approach in elements like the nice instrumental start leading to group vocals, melodic riffs which build up to choruses and the simple emotion-driven ballady essence building up to screams towards the end. The cinematic spirit is also dominant in “For We Are Forever” which increases dynamics from “brOken” with intense basslines and riffs, catchy group vocals and drum fills. “Inferno” sounds rather melancholic, with little shifts from dark to catchy between the verses and choruses. “No Dream Without Sacrifice” displays Caliban’s orchestral skills with some brilliant guitar tones, layers, even a little glimpse of an acoustic guitar and surprise elements like the shift from the melodic intro to raspy vocals. The last track “Hurricane” is one of the best on the album reminiscent of Caliban’s early material in the thrashy riffs and gnarly vocals, besides putting forth fresh aspects like the heavy and catchy breakdown and chorus.
Although ‘Gravity’ doesn’t explore many new areas, it doesn’t really jeopardize the overall sound because the signature Caliban elements have been maintained pretty well. Some drawbacks are the predictable melodic and catchy choruses on almost every song and lyrics which could probably have been much better. Nevertheless, a good listen.