Music Reviews


Shadow Hearts

Prosthetic Records

This album’s title doesn’t quite fit the intensity within. Sure, Caliban is said to have “cleaned” it up a little since their early EP’s, but that says nothing about the show of instrumental force that takes place here – nothing short of an off-the-dial outburst of propulsive percussion, pit riffs and searing screams. It’s a combination of In Flames, Soilwork, Lamb Of God, Shadows Fall and Dead To Fall all doing Southside style thug-core “victory” laps around the quickly forming riot squad. Caliban screws with a few minor key twists and pace breaking temporal adjustments now and again, and probably earn the right to “Shadow Hearts,” but anything short of pain, death, or dismemberment almost seems sarcastic.

The album opens with “Dark Shadows,” an instrumental of no great measure, but a quick flip from tranquil to tear it out by the roots on the storming “Forsaken Horizon” and you’re up and awake all night in no time. It’s a tough act to follow with it’s piercing death metal rumble and ol’ school fills, consistent with the up and comers of the day who discovered that “keeping it real” meant more than dropping three or six pant sizes, two strings, and a tank top; so learn the chops to back up the angst and be a musician first, and malcontent second. Then, if you wanna fuck with the order of things go for it, at least you’ve established the core of your character before it’s had a chance to wash away in the next tide of poor taste.

Call it Metal-Core, New Age Thrash, Melodic Death, Speed-Core, or the next wave of German Metal – now there’s a scary thought. Yup, the Germans have caught on, and there’s plenty o’ anger to go around. Other tracks worthy of mention include: “Vicious Circle” which goes back to In Flames meets Pantera meets Slayer; the octave climbing, percussive insanity of “Bad Dream” with its made to order mid-point mosh pit; and “The Seventh Soul” runs more effective guitar scaling and harmony fills as did the aforementioned “Forsaken Horizon,” with an extra degree of repulse running through post-chorus to the merciful end. Near the end, however, Caliban falls into a pit of depressive repetition causing the listener to lose focus and think “I’ve heard it all before.” This subsides for a second on the slowly spun “Scream From The Abyss,” but inevitably becomes that which I’ve tried so desperately to resolve a few lines back. “A Piece Of My Life” winds down by cutting the pace, opting for less speed, more density and melody with a near anthem-like readiness that refuses to go away quietly, peeling apart every last lyric and note until we’re all convinced that in fire, there really does exist, safety.

Maybe not, but overall, it’d be nice to see a little more character change within the songs, not just at the outset (which they tend to do nicely enough). Too often we’re led down a singular technically rich path only to end up in a confounding mess of same style elements. Caliban earn aces for their brutality, but fall short on overall vision, which is what has allowed “true” Nu-Metal to transcend and grow.

Prosthetic Records:

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