Sitting down at an empty can I thought to myself, “Wow! Look at all of the metal objects that exist in our world today! With metal the possibilities are endless!” If I had a hunk of metal I could fashion it into a hook for my hand and go stalking lover’s lane, etc. Germany’s Caliban has decided for their latest…offering…that when metal is referring to music it should have all the diversity and creativity of math teacher jokes.
Caliban have been a band for more than a decade and you get the sense that maybe somehow at some time they had a shred of originality that would warrant excitement, but right from the gate “I Will Never Let You Down” proves that by-the-numbers melodic metalcore is all they are going to come up with nowadays. I’m not sure the double-bass style drumming deviates from its set patterns a single time for the entire duration of the song; yeah, it may be fast but so are beer shits. Perhaps the worst part of the song, though, is the sung vocal parts, which suffer from overproduction and cheesy lyrics. Speaking of cheese, right before a breakdown there is this breathless whisper in the vocalist’s growling vocals; personally, I think Lou Pearlman should start managing these guys. It isn’t hard to believe they aren’t going to let us down when the bar has been set at such great heights.
Singing in metal isn’t necessarily a bad thing, though; in fact, some bands the cleanly sung vocals are much more effective than their weak growls. With Caliban, though, the opposite is true, where the harsher vocals are actually reasonably convincing and one of the better aspects of the band. The singing leaves much to be desired and ruins songs that might have come off as simply inoffensive into laughably poor on songs like “Rise and Fight."
I have to give it up to the band for not falling back on the lyrical clichés of hardcore and instead covering more personal and reflective issues. I can get down with minimalist or abstract lyrics but to put it plainly these lyrics are worse than something culled from the valentine your seventh grade asthmatic self was too ashamed to give to that girl three columns up and two rows to the left. Take for instance “Another Cold Day”: “Its greyness stings my eyes, where the hell is the gloom? What the fuck, I am so doomed!" I think I just wet my pantaloons.
There is something to be said for longevity, but there comes a point when a band can feel trapped by the constraints of their own legacy and I think that is what Caliban are suffering from. I prefer the somewhat “posi” bend a few of the songs take in their lyrics over the deluge of diatribes about back-stabbing or killing your girlfriend that still permeate the scene but that is about as far as the praise for this record can go.The only thing The Awakening is likely to awaken is a strong feeling of longing for one of your favourite records.