Review: “Zeitgeister” by Caliban

It has taken 23 years for German Metalcore veterans Caliban to ink an album in their native tongue having always been a band who chose English for their material. The inspiration came from recording a cover of “Sonne” by Rammstein, a band who have been defiant in their use of the German language as opposed to English, despite any boundaries that may be perceived from doing so. So the idea of “Zeitgeister” was born in 2010 during the recording of the first “Cloverfield” EP and with long time producer Benjamin Richter (Moonspell, Emil Bulls) Caliban have picked seven cuts for our seven deadly sins from their eleven album history to do so with; giving us one fresh cut and an introduction piece as well.

There is sense of the cinematic with “Zeitgeister“; an orchestrated affair that builds a sense of something wicked coming this way with underlying programming that sets the tone before “Trauma” kicks in. It seems fitting to start in 1999 with the re-recording of a cut from “A Small Boy and a Grey Heaven” and having Matthi from Nasty on the track is a welcome addition. What has been done here is quite clever as the album breathes new life into cuts which are much loved but with a couple of exceptions like “Herz“, haven’t been singles and don’t have music videos, as they’ve picked cuts from 7 albums that appeared in the decade from 1999 and 2009 and nothing from their self titled debut or last four records. That serves to remind us of how good the bands material is, giving us almost a “best of” record but leaving room to do that should this one works. It also means the band can’t be accused of destroying some of their best works by recording then in their native tongue, while still enabling them to deliver the record. As it goes, older music benefits from the use of modern production and recording equipment and techniques, the band clearly having learned from other bands who have re-recorded previous works. “Herz” is absolutely stunning, Progressive Metalcore with DJent leanings and glorious clean vocal parts from guitarist Denis Schmidt and sounds like an Architects esq track complete with “Blegh!”. The Dark and sinister moments of “Ausbruch nach innen” make it an early Metalcore classic while the addition of the programming elevates the whole thing.

As a record, it sounds fresh and has all the depth and texture of those originals, capturing all of the bands live energy and not falling flat or going limp unlike some of their predecessors who have attempted to do this kind of thing in the past; “The Greater of Two Evils” by Anthrax being just one example of how to do this in a mediocre fashion. “Intoleranz” remains every inch the unhinged nightmare of the original and perfectly placed here as a brutal cut with Nu-Metal interludes of creepy whispers that will go down incredibly well when it returns to the live set. The other thing to mention here is that everything together really well, thanks in part to of the use of the same instruments throughout, same guitar tones, same tunings; the cuts have been well chosen with that in mind as well so the album has great flow and nothing sticks out like a sore thumb. The only new cut is “nICHts”, which screamer Andreas Dörner describes as being “It’s a song about feeling disoriented and hopeless, about depression and feeling powerless. Feelings that many of us can probably relate to during these days”. It seems inspired by the re-recordings and has some classy DJent moments as well as some Progressive Metalcore leanings that perhaps point the way to where the band could go next. The final breakdown is immense while the underlying melancholic atmospherics created in part by the mournful synths are something special. Caliban took a gamble and it paid off handsomely [7.5/10]

Track listing

1. Zeitgeister
2. Trauma (ft. Matthi from Nasty) [re-recording of “Arena Of Concealment”, originally on 1999’s “A Small Boy and a Grey Heaven“]
3. Herz [re-recording of “I Will Never Let You Down”, originally on 2007’s “The Awakening“]
4. Ausbruch nach innen [re-recording of [“Tyranny Of Small Misery” originally on 2001’s “Vent“]
5. Feuer, zieh’ mit mir [re-recording of “Between The Worlds”, originally on 2000’s “Shadow Hearts“]
6. Nichts ist fuer immer [re-recording of “All I Gave”, originally on 2009’s “Say Hello To Tragedy“]
7. Intoleranz [re-recording of “Intolerance”, originally on 1999’s “A Small Boy and a Grey Heaven“]
8. Mein Inferno [re-recording of [“My Little Secret”, originally on 2004’s “The Opposite Form Within“]
9. nICHts

Zeitgeister” by Caliban is out 14th May via Century Media

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