Caliban – Ghost Empire by Lee Carter

Rating: 3.5/5
Distributor/label: Century Media Records
Released: 2014
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Caliban - Ghost Empire

Band line-up:

Adreas Dörner – Vocals
Marc Görtz – Guitar
Denis Schmidt – Guitar
Marco Schaller – Bass
Patrick Grün – Drums

Track Listing:

1. King
2. Chaos – Creation
3. Wolves & Rats
4. nebeL
5. I Am Ghost
6. Devil’s Night
7. yOUR Song
8. Cries & Whispers
9. Good Man
10. I Am Rebellion
11. Who We Are
12. My Vertigo


Sweet mother of metal does this album pack a punch. Whatever CALIBAN have been consuming in the two years since “I Am Nemesis”, it has boiled down to a concentrated mix of groove and neutron star matter – this is a very heavy record. The band’s ninth effort and third for Century Media Records “Ghost Empire”, in addition to it’s pounding nature, demonstrates an adaptation to the tried-and-trusted sound after nearly fifteen years of riding high in the echelons of metalcore. It’s a modern touch; incorporating the guitar tone and syncopated groove of djent with a thick, bass-heavy wall that sounds like the bastard love-child of groove metal and djent. So what more can be said about such a dense-sounding record?

It is groove, groove and more groove. “Ghost Empire” just wails on the listener with as much rhythmical onslaught as it can – “King” opens proceedings and it is more or less relentless from there on in until the last drop-tuned staccato riff of “My Vertigo”. Variation comes in the form of “nebeL”, where an incorporation of an electronic/industrial element into its breakdown gives a menacingly machine-like sound – FEAR FACTORY and Dino Cazares would be proud! The only let up occurs around “Cries & Whispers” (where the lead guitar work has a neo-country feel that strangely works), through to “I Am Rebellion”; a solid, half-time slice of melodic metal. Görtz, Schmidt, Schaller and Grün display a solid understanding and musicality between one another throughout the record and their main man in Andreas Dörner delivers a fine performance; running the gamut for metalcore screaming and melodic singing.

Yet for all the aural bombardment, there is one major drawback. Speaking in terms of songwriting and structure, there is no real change to the age-old formula for metalcore: groovy verse riffs, uplifting choruses, syncopated and battering breakdowns. And this is where the record is let down – for all its heaviness, it is still the same old metalcore that everyone has been used to since the days of KILLSWITCH ENGAGE’s “Alive Or Just Breathing”. And therein lies the problem for a genre that has been around for nearly a decade with no shot in the arm – it has stagnated.

There are great metalcore albums that have been released recently (TIMES OF GRACE’s “The Hymn Of A Broken Man” to name one) and this one will stand as one of the better ones, but there is has been no evolution. Granted, it is difficult to evolve a genre without alienating fans and venturing off too far, but something is need to prevent stagnation. At least the focus on groove and that mid-range djent-guitar attack makes for a step in the right direction – regardless of your opinions on djent and modern metal, CALIBAN are injecting a degree of modernity into their sound and keeping themselves at the fore.

This modernity will stand CALIBAN in good stead for the future, and “Ghost Empire” is a good step into it. Further developments of the industrial elements from “nebeL” and even featuring some more lead work would really elevate this far beyond the standard metalcore fans are used to. Nevertheless, the lead-laden grooves pack a Tyson-sized wallop (benefitted by a supreme production) and are enough to warrant giving “Ghost Empire” a few spins. You may need to bring a helmet though.

Review by Lee Carter