Caliban: I Am Nemesis

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Caliban: I Am Nemesis
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Caliban: I Am Nemesis
Metalcore
Century Media Records
February 28th, 2012
Release length: 45:42
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Caliban is always changing, whether it’s to cater a more emotional brand of Metalcore, or tackle a far more intense intepretation head-on. Over the years, this has greatly upset their fans, as well as pleased them. After their 2007 album The Awakening, it seems fans had lost hope in the group, feeling completely alienated with generic, sell-out material. Say Hello to Tragedy didn’t seem to fare too well either, falling on the deaf ears of the betrayed fanbase. However, Caliban really try to redeem themselves in 2012 with their eigth full-length effort, I Am Nemesis, which finds the band going back to their vintage Metalcore roots with a modern twist. But, is this the love song fans should have had in 2007, and if so, is it being delivered a little too late?

First things first, the production quality of I Am Nemesis is some of the best you’ll hear for this style. The music on this album sounds sleak, crystal clear, and loud, all without losing any bite like many other high-end recordings as of late. The guitars have a nice sharpness to them that is backed by a strong bass guitar sound carrying a deep, booming quality to the already quite dominant mid-range chords. The drums hit that same volume level, but everything is crisp and distinct. The cymbals sound as if you are standing dead center of the kit, picking up on which piece is on what side, while bass kicks here have a commanding click to them that really completes the music perfectly, powering over every other aspect of the kit to make its presence known and felt. The snares are a little mixed into the background, finding a slight echo from it to fuel the often emotional sound of the music (without crossing into previous Emo territories), but yet still stand out with a slightly hollow sound to them. The vocals are a little higher in volume, capturing the anger and aggression perfectly of the somewhat deeper shouting. The clean singing level is held down just a little in comparison, working well with the soothing melodic moments of the album.

After a brief vulgar spoken word opening, “We Are the Many” kicks in with a catchy, melody driven, but strict-Metalcore foundation that will have your head banging along immediately, though the eventual traditional riffs of the style feel just short of being as intimidating as you would hope. Even when the pace shifts into the main verse and the double bass kicks in with richer music, the aggression doesn’t quite match expectations. But, when the energetic chorus kicks, the gang-chant styled vocals and Hardcore authority will make your head bang right along with your fists pounding into the air. The most surprising aspect of this song, and many others, is the guitar solo that sounds more like a keyboard thanks to the distortion used. It appears shortly after the first breakdown, and has a Progressive Rock sound that actually feeds nicely into the atmosphere of the song, acting as a soothing agent for a very brief amount of time before heading right back into the infectious chorus to close things out. This effect on the guitar also appears in a number of other songs, and it really does become a welcome addition. But, the only other song on here that comes close to the fluidity or energetic performance of that one is “Memorial.” The chugging guitars and bass are nicely filled with the loud cymbals, bass kicks, haunting effects guitar effects that give it a very strong presence. While the lighter, melodic chorus is expected, the tone of the song does go downhill slightly to feed that section’s more traditional Metalcore sound with clean singing, one thing “We Are the Many” definitely has over this.

While some songs clearly can tread too close to very weaker, emotional territory, not all have that sort of tone. “Edge of Black” shows this very well thanks to its stronger clean singing and gang chats during the melodic chorus performances, a very hard hitting main verse, and a very passionate atmosphere established at the start thanks to the violin performance that kicks things off. The melodic riffs that form the verses of the track are met with an uncompromising drum performance and higher pitched screams that tie everything together, making it one of the better, sturdier showcases of the band’s sound that you’ll definitely find yourself revisiting more than others like “Memorial.” Again there are additional keyboard-esque guitar effects similar to “We Are the Many” that crop up, adding greatly to the song’s atmosphere. Sadly, this is about all there is to say about songs that really stand out in a positive light. I Am Nemesis does still have a few noteworthy tracks left in it, such as “Modern Warfare” towards the end. This is easily one of the strongest tracks of the album with a superbly emotional chorus that doesn’t lose any bite or aggression with the additional keyboard sounds and hard-hitting guitars. The additional screams that kick in to accompany the clean singing really builds onto it as well, adding even more energy to the mix. But before that, the band seems to try experimenting a bit, which isn’t as good as it sounds.

Starting with “Deadly Dream,” you get a lot of odd music to contend with. The first song of this series of oddities has a chugging approach once more, and a great deal of intensity throughout, but the main verses actually feel quite similar to Slipknot and other Alternative Metal acts. There’s also “Broadcast to Damnation,” which is a pretty good track despite having a pretty standard sound for the style. The main problem is the “DJ stopping a spinning record” effect used. The second time it happens, you go right into a completely different sound and pace, having more of a slower pace, darker and ominous atmosphere, and more melodic sound. If it had a better transition, it would have been fantastic, which is evidenced the second time the chorus hits without that effect used. “This Oath” follows up with what sounds like a plugged in acoustic ballad piece, but with shouting. The main verses sound horrible because of it, though the chorus does end up sounding better thanks to the richer music really helping the atmosphere. The distant vocal effect on the screaming doesn’t help any either throughout the entire song sadly. This track also seems to rehashthe atmospheric guitar chords of “Memorial.”

Honestly, I Am Nemesis has a great deal of good things going for it, and plenty of enjoyable to exceptional tracks worth exploring. The energy behind pretty much every song makes so many here infectious, but it’s countered by things like the effect of a record stopping, just rather generic softer melodic parts, or even less-than-impressive breakdowns on more than one occassion per song. There are plenty of solid entries that will leave an impact though, but, the most impressive thing here is the audio quality. The production of this album is superb, fitting for the biggest corporate Hard Rock sellouts of today or the legendary pioneers of days past, but is used perfectly here to capture the aggression and emotion Caliban carries with them. This becomes the biggest saviour of this release. It’s clear Caliban are continuing to push forward with their aggressive roots, and for fans of the style, or bands with a similar sound such as Unearth, I Am Nemesis is an album still worth checking out, regardless of its faults

01. We Are the Many – 4:03
02. The Bogeyman – 3:15
03. Memorial – 4:21
04. No Tomorrow – 3:27
05. Edge of Black – 4:58
06. Davy Jones – 4:06
07. Deadly Dream – 3:59
08. Open Letter – 3:39
09. Dein R3ich – 3:30
10. Broadcast to Damnation – 3:32
11. This Oath – 3:30
12. Modern Warfare – 3:21
Overall Score: 7/10
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Digital review copy of this release provided by Century Media Records.