Not quite the copy cats of old, but still lacking that spark of originality at times
Caliban have, specifically with their previous effort, The Undying Darkness, been a poor man's Killswitch Engage as far as I'm concerned. Very little originally and too much similarity to Killswitch was the problem. Sure, 2004's The Opposite From Within, was solid enough given it's lineage, but at some point it all went pear shaped for this German quintet, who are vocalist Andreas Dörner, guitarists Denis Schmidt and marc Goertz, bassist Marco Schaller and drummer Patrik Grün. It's very surprising to see the group return with a new slab of metalcore about 15 months since they dropped the last one.
The aggressive opener, I Will Never Let You Down, does shows some potential early on through its stock standard metalcore riffs and breakdowns. The clean vocals still have a Killswitch feel to them, but that does seem to be toned down a touch this time around. That said, it certainly is not a track that instils hope for change on a grand level. Let Go ups the intensity levels which certainly sees the gap widening between Caliban and their idols, as it unloads some off sounding chords and a good helping of tempo changes that all work very well together. The promise of good things continues with Another Cold Day as it not only continues the aggro but it drops in some different musically melodic passages along the way but that promise soon looks shakey as My Time Has Come is a note perfect example of text book metalcore and offers nothing that hasn't been overdone many, many times before.
Throughout the remainder of The Awakening, there are some bright spots with Life Is Too Short, the well balanced Stop Running and the slow, plodding titled track, The Awakening, and Nowhere To Run, No Place To Hide being the picks of the bunch for different reasons. There's enough that don't stack up though with Give Me A Reason being wholly unmemorable, both I Believe and I'll Show No Fear showcasing clean vocals that clearly are lacking passion and Rise And Fight following that tried and well tested Metalcore 101 formula of fast riff, breakdown, fast riff, breakdown. Yawn.
To their credit, Caliban has produced an album that is not a clone of Killswitch Engage's most recent effort. There are some quality moments on here but still not enough to give the band any real identity. If nothing else, this is at least a significant step in the right direction.
(Roadrunner Records/Warner Music Australia)