Win some, lose some in this mixed bunch
Caliban are a band that I must admit I never saw a lot in. As much as I hate to hear someone say that metal ‘all sounds the same’, I got to admit that is exactly how I feel when it comes to Caliban. They just haven’t offered up anything that has allowed them to stand out from the overcrowded metalcore scene. But, as any reviewer worth their salt would do, each new release is always approached with open ears and an open mind. So it’s an interesting move to see this German quintet release a covers EP and what makes it more interesting is the diversity of styles of songs they’ve chosen for such a release.
From goth metal to industrial to melodeath to pop – it’s an eclectic collection that the group has opted to put their own twist on. Perhaps in homage to the late great Pete Steele, the EP begins with Caliban’s version of what was perhaps Type O Negative’s most recognised song – My Girlfriend’s Girlfriend. Suitably down tuned further and sans the sugary sweet pop like keyboards effects of the original, it would be too far out of Caliban’s field for the Andreas Dörner’s vocals to come anywhere near that of the dark, deep inimitable style of Mr. Steele. This leaves the song with Caliban’s stamp all over it, and whilst reasonably true to the original, this isn’t a bad version at all and thanks to thicker, more prominent guitars, often heavier than the original.
As much as their interpretation of Type O Negative shows initiative and is stands apart from the original, their covers of Rammstein’s Sonne (originally found on 2001’s Mutter) and At the Gate’s legendary signature track Blinded By Fear (originally found on 1995’s Slaughter of the Soul) are so close to the originals that they really miss their mark. Whilst solid enough versions, they really don’t break the mould in any way, shape or form. Perhaps the most ambitious cover on this EP is that of The Beatles’ Helter Skelter (which originally appeared on their self titled 1968 release). As you can imagine, Caliban are already just about as far apart musically from The Beatles as humanly possible, but give them credit for moving out of the box on this one for sure. Obviously, it’s heavier as you’d expect and that actually works quite well surprisingly for most, if not all, of this particular track.
Cover releases will always be hit and miss, usually swayed by either how original sounding or not a version is. Either end of this release is decent enough, and it finishes on a high, but the middle pair of tracks, are wasted as they bring nothing new to the front. Whilst this may be a stop gap release to keep the band’s name out there and the group on the road for a few more months, take it or leave it really. It’s fun enough, but really has a limited appeal to diehard fans more than the casual listener.
(Century Media Records/EMI Music Australia)