Sound — 8
Caliban formed in 1997, effectively predating most other bands in the metalcore scene. While their earlier releases were considered more in the vein of hardcore than metalcore, their sound quickly evolved. The band has had a consistent lineup since 2005 when Marco Schaller joined as bass guitarist. "Ghost Empire" is Caliban's ninth studio album, consisting of thirteen tracks with a runtime of approximately forty-eight minutes. The album is released by Century Media. The album was written and produced by guitarist, Marc Görtz, and the lyrics were written by Andreas Dörner (vocalist) and Benny Richter (co-producer). Matt Heafy of Trivium fame performs guest vocals on the bonus track "Falling Downwards." Bastian Sobtzick from Callejon is featured on the song "nebeL" and Cristhoph Koterzina from Callejon is featured on the track "Good Man."
The album opens up with a bang with the track "King," which opens up with the line "Bow down and hail to the king/ I don't care what people think/ Bow down with your face in the mud/ I'm larger than life, I don't give a f--k." Next up is "Chaos - Creation" which is a very groove-heavy track and a synth melody in the background of the song during parts. "Wolves and Rats" unfortunately falls into the realm of being kind of generic to my ears. "nebeL" is up next, and features guest vocals from Bastian Sobtzick from the band Callejon. The track is pretty much full on aggression from beginning to end. "I Am Ghost" has a very ambient type of opening, but builds into a pretty heavy track pretty quickly. "Devil's Night" was almost instantly one of my favorite tracks from the album because it evokes a certain type of mood very quickly in the song and keeps it throughout the track. Next up is "Your Song" which is essentially the closest thing on the album to a single, and with heavy use of gang vocals for the hook. It is pretty catchy in a way that metalcore rarely is. "Cries and Whispers" has an intro that is really a change of direction in the album, sounding almost like a little western melody for a second before the distorted guitars and heavy drums come in. "Good Man" is up next, with guest vocals provided by Cristhoph Koterzina, and an acoustic guitar and piano in the intro. The song moves from there into some groove-heavy riffing. "I Am Rebellion" starts out like some kind of trippy shoegaze thing for a few seconds but builds up into a more traditional metalcore song within the first minute of the track. "Who We Are" is one of those tracks that starts out pretty aggressively and stays in that wheelhouse pretty much throughout the track except for a chilled out section partway through, but it is done well. "My Vertigo" is another high adrenalin track, defined by heavy riffing and pounding drums which makes me want to turn on my amp and just go. "Falling Downwards" is the bonus track that the album ends on, including guest vocals by Matt Heafy. The track manages to be heavy as hell with a slow to mid speed tempo.
Lyrics — 7
Andreas Dörner has provided vocals for the band since they formed, with clean vocals being provided by Denis Schmidt since 2002 and the rest of the band supplying very occasional backing vocals. Andreas has provided a consistent and stellar performance since the band was founded, and this album is another album under his belt with some exceptional metalcore lyrics. Denis has helped transform the band to who we know as Caliban today thanks to his clean vocals which have become a defining part of Caliban's sound. The guest vocals on the album are all nice counterpoints on the album as well. As a sample of the lyrics from the album, here are some lyrics from the track "King": "I live among gods, I dine in hell/ I'm on top of the world and I never fail/ But within my towering walls/ I sing a song about an empty soul/ Nothing to hold on/ King of kingdom gone/ I'm all alone/ Where I walk/ There's light/ Where I speak/ There's quiet/ Darkness inside/ Silence cries/ Is this what I long to be!?". Pretty standard fare for Caliban lyrics, but there's nothing wrong with that.
Overall Impression — 7
I go back and forth on how I feel about metalcore as a genre, but bands like Caliban help prove that metalcore is a worthwhile genre even though a lot of bands in the genre have become very derivative of each other. This is just something that happens and unfortunately it can give the whole genre a bad name, such as what happened with nu-metal and modern pop music. My favorite tracks from the album would probably be "Devil's Night," "Falling Downwards" and "Chaos - Creation." My least favorite track is "Wolves and Rats" which has a very generic type of sound to me. Overall the album kept me engaged from start to finish with a few slightly less enthralling tracks, none of the album was bad.