caliban ghost empireCaliban

Ghost Empire

01. King
02. Chaos – Creation
03. Wolves and Rats
04. nebeL
05. I Am Ghost
06. Devil’s Night
07. yOUR Song
08. Cries and Whispers
09. Good Man
10. I Am Rebellion
11. Who We Are
12. My Vertigo

[01/24/14]
[Century Media Records]

Having made their first impressions with A Small Boy and A Grey Heaven way back 1999, Germany’s Caliban is one of metalcore’s longest running bands. Their continuity has seen them present themselves with gradually improving production as each album came out, and their ninth studio album Ghost Empire is no exception. So with more than sixteen years of experience under their collective belts, the fellows in Caliban know very well how to put together an album to annex more fans. Ghost Empire is a straightforward crowd pleaser that plays out like it has been specifically designed for a target audience. It boasts copious breakdowns, frequent shifting from harsh to clean vocals and a very reasonable forty-seven minute play time; all elements that are considered to be the veritable industry standard as far as metalcore is concerned.

Ghost Empire is broken down into twelve tracks that fall within the three to four minute range (except for the five minute long ‘Good Man’). This similarity in length is not the only thing these tracks have in common. There’s very little structural variation from track to track which easily becomes tedious as the album’s play count moves towards double digits. Moving from verse to chorus to breakdown and back is the blueprint that Caliban adheres to which is nothing surprising considering their back catalog. So having shut the door on any excitement coming from any craftily written songs or surprising transitions, they’ve limited themselves to spicing things up only through clever hooks, catchy vocal lines and bits and pieces of individual skill.

The biggest highlight on this record however is the top notch production. The sound of every single element falls exactly in the middle of the spectrum, no additional reverb on the vocals and no whacky guitar effects to be seen anywhere. ‘King’ kicks things off with a lots of vocal variety while ‘nebeL’ (German for Fog), which is sung in German, relies a little too heavily on the clean vocals for its own good. Breakdowns, in most cases, come in to balance the occasionally heavy handed approach to the radio-friendly clean vocals. ‘Devil’s Night’ and ‘Wolves and Rats’ are quite heavy on the breakdowns with gang shouts and guitars wailing in the background adding a little more intensity to the proceedings. ‘yOUR Song’ starts off with a fast paced and exciting segment with a very good lead guitar line. Its breakdown is quite efficient and simple yet the chorus comes off rather cheesy. ‘I Am Rebellion’, ‘Chaos – Creation’ and ‘Who We Are’ are quite forgettable and adhere almost religiously to the album’s formula.

As a standalone album, Ghost Empire is far from ground-breaking. It is however a lot better than anything put out by hundreds of other bands and it holds its own as one coherent listen. Yet in the grand scheme of things, it’s a filler album at best; one for the obsessive collector rather than for the excited explorer. It doesn’t push its genre a single millimeter forward and it contributes very little to Caliban’s overall body of work. Century Media will probably have no problems selling Ghost Empire given its undeniable commercial appeal. It’s a record that will engage the listeners who only care to skim the surface for a little while and go along with their lives. But for the resident metalhead to whom the extreme arts are the daily bread and butter, this record will largely disappoint.

Caliban’s Ghost Empire gets…

2.5/5

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