The Undying Darkness
Is imitation still the highest form of flattery?
German metal core quintet Caliban (who are vocalist Andy DÃ¶rner, guitarists Denis Schmidt and Marc GÃ¶rtz, new bassist Marco Schaller and drummer Patrick GrÃ¼n) had established quite a name for themselves amongst the European metal core circuit with their formative releases A Small Boy And A Grey Heaven (in 1999) and 2002's Shadow Hearts. The latter saw the group shift musically towards a more American metalcore sound along the lines of Killswitch Engage; a move which was cemented with 2004's The Opposite From Within and is further reinforced with their latest effort, The Undying Darkness, which was produced by In Flames frontman Anders Friden and mixed by Andy Sneap (Machine Head, Napalm Death).
The short, soft building and appropriately titled Intro is certainly something the band could use between the moment the lights dim and the band take the stage. But as soon as the double kick lead metalcore assault of I Rape Myself kicks in, itâ€™s instantly obvious that Caliban haven't done anything that will allow them to dodge more comparisons to Killswitch Engage. If anything, the progression from their previous album sees tracks like Song About Killing, the decidedly melodic It's Our Burden To Bleed, the predictable Nothing Is Forever, and the KSE clone-like numbers I Refuse To Keep On Living and My Fiction Beauty take on even more of a likeness to Killswitch Engage than ever before.
Tracks like Together Alone suggest that it's not entirely bad news for Caliban's latest effort. While it's definitely overflowing with metalcore traits, it does manage to steer a little away from the aforementioned blatant KSE-isms. The melodic, almost Arch Enemy like (think Enter The Machine from their latest album Doomsday Machine) opening to No More 2nd Chances soon makes way for another reasonable dose of aggression which also strays away from any other comparisons at this point. Sick Of Running Away strength lies in the minimalist use of DÃ¶rnerâ€™s clean vocals. It's not to say that his vocals are poor. There's plenty of evidence that he's got an excellent set of vocal chords. But The Undying Darkness mostly tilts towards clean vocals compared to the more aggressive stance that Caliban have demonstrated in the past. That is until the brutal Moment Of Clarity which features a guest appearance by Kreator's Mille Petrozza, and to a lesser extent the closing track Room Of Nowhere.
There's little here that suggests that for the most part, Caliban are nothing more than a European version of one of the Killswitch Engage who are clearly at the forefront of the movement. That may not bother some and fans of Killswitch will most probably be totally into this as well. Other than the final two tracks, there's almost nothing that really injects any new life into the scene which makes The Undying Darkness an average listen at best.
(Roadrunner Records/Universal Distribution)