Album review

Caliban : Shadow Hearts
Prosthetic Records

Caliban : Shadow Hearts The title doesn't quite fit the intensity within. Sure, they're said to have 'cleaned' it up a little since the early EPs, but that says nothing about the show of instrumental force taking place here - nothing short of an off the dial outburst of propulsive percussion, pit riffs and searing screams.
    First points of reference for me are 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. However, Caliban screw with a few minor key twists and pace breaking temporal adjustments now and again - just enough to earn the right to call Shadow Hearts their own.

The disc opens with the Dark Shadows instrumental. Nothing of any 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 its 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. 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 caught on and there's plenty o' anger to go round.
    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, which builds on the guitar scaling and harmony fills of the aforementioned Forsaken Horizon with an extra degree of repulsion running through to the merciful end.
    Caliban fall into a pit of depressive repetition here and there; near the end where I lose focus and go through a brief 'heard it all before' beef that subsides for a second on the slowly spun Scream From The Abyss, before quickly becoming that which I tried so desperately to resolve seconds earlier. Finally, Caliban end things on a high note by opting for less speed, more density, and a near anthemic melody that refuses to go away quietly on A Piece Of My Life.

Overall, I'd like to see a little more character change within the songs; not just at the onset - which they tend to do nicely enough - but throughout. Too many times we're led down a singular technically rich path only to end up in a confounding mess of same style elements. They earn aces on their brutality level, but fall short on overall vision, which is what's allowed the 'true' nu-metal style to transcend and grow.

:: Vinnie Apicella

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