Review Summary: Caliban escapes Metalcore blandness with yet another top notch release.
Metalcore, a sub-genre of Heavy Metal pioneered to popularity by bands such as Killswitch Engage, Shadows Fall, All That Remains and Unearth. A genre which was once a showcase of a band's variable abilities, but has recently become stale due to wannabe hardcore bands attempting to broaden their horizons. Caliban, the quiet and lesser known pioneer of this genre, entered the scene in 1999 and produced seven albums which established their name. With the acclaimed "Say Hello To Tragedy" sitting nicely in the hearts of fans, expectations were high for the long awaited release of "I Am Nemesis".
"I Am Nemesis" is quite easily one of, if not the best, record produced by Caliban. Top notch production and well-developed musical ability is what makes this album stand out as a high point in the band's career. It is very consistent through all twelve of its tracks and offers a breath of fresh air to the bland Metalcore scene. The standard screamed verse, clean chorus song structure is present in this album, however it doesn't seem to haunt Caliban nearly as much as other bands of the genre seems to work very well for the band, rather than sounding like a forced effort. The familiar structure is present in catchy, upbeat songs like "Open Letter" and the precariously titled "Modern Warfare". The structure sounds comfortable for the band and this is emphasised by the excellent blending of screamed and clean vocals. Andreas Dorner's aggressive screaming sounds great in every song and can get incredible heavy in a selection of songs. Denis Schmidt's singing has also improved, with him confidently expressing his emotions in atmospheric songs such as the single "Memorial". Although his clean vocals have improved, his overall range hasn't. Much of his effort consists of the same pitched singing which can get repetitive and somewhat bland towards the end of the album but this isn't enough of an excuse to spoil the album as there is much more to experience in other areas.
Vocals aside, "I Am Nemesis" features something that many modern Metalcore bands forget to include in their releases, variety. From start to finish, none of the tracks sound alike. From the Meshuggah inspired riffs of "Davy Jones" and "No Tomorrow" to the ambitious and almost tear-jerking "This Oath", this album is a display of the amount of talent the band has and how far they have progressed in their career. There are also a few Deathcore-like breakdowns featured in "The Bogeyman", "Edge of Black", and the earlier mentioned "Davy Jones" which add a much needed sense of aggression to a few of the less engaging songs. Although the lyrics aren't done justice in these sequences as Andreas growls blunt and simple phrases such as "Here comes the boogeyman" or "Get lost, get the *** away from me." Nevertheless, the catchy melodic and ferocious guitar work, sophisticated and intricate drumming and impressively audible bass lines make save this album from its flaws. This release is sure to see producer Benny Richter highly regarded in the Metalcore scene as he has done a commendable job with its mixing, balancing and production.
It is worthwhile mentioning that Caliban were able recruit a huge amount of guests on this release. Guest vocalists from Heaven Shall Burn, Suicide Silence and The Mercury Arc are all present on one track, whilst their very own producer executes the haunting keyboard melodies on other tracks very well. There are also eight bonus tracks on the special edition.
With the release of "I Am Nemesis", Caliban reassures its fans that it will continue to escape the bland Metalcore death trap for the eighth time in a row.
"Edge of Black"