Review || Caliban - "Zeitgeister"


German metalcore titans Caliban are releasing their new album, "Zeitgeister", on May 14th 2021 via Century Media records. 

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of 'Zeitgeist' is "the general intellectual, moral, and cultural climate of an era". With this album, the Germans demonstrate how evolution can be attained through many roads, one of them being the re-invention of oneself -and the spirits of eras past. Now, for the sake of this discourse, I will ignore that all but one track in this collection are the reworked versions of older songs and will treat them as a completely new territory (which, in many aspects, they are) and not as mere covers with new lyrics.

"Zeitgeister" kicks off with the title track and the second the choral arrangement started, I could feel a big smile creeping on my face. By the end of the intro (and a hint of screaming), the orchestra was delivering shocks of goosebumps. I didn't even realize the transition to "Trauma" until the heavy guitars made their appearance. A ferocious, to say the least, face-melting riffage develops as the soaring vocals unleash pure chaos. Punishing note after note, tempo drop after tempo drop, it features a special guest, Matthi from Nasty, whom we last saw on "Elements" (and when Caliban songs with German lyrics were rather scarce). We are off to a very good start.

Up next is "Herz" and it feels right at home. Heavy metalcore with tasteful synths, big choruses, powerful breakdowns and neck-breaking guitars. I can very easily see it becoming a (reborn) pit hit when shows return, igniting both big circle pits and loud singalongs. On a similar vein, "Ausbruch Nach Innen" kicks off with an engaging vocal melody and immediately starts building tension. While I do like the overall feel and change in patterns, I can't help but feel that certain riffs are a somewhat dry loop (and overshadowing the Slayer-esque guitar lead in the original). This track lost me a little, not gonna lie. Moving on to "Feuer, Zieh' Mit Mir" the pummeling continues and the thing I adore the most here are the contagious cleans.

"Nichts Ist Fuer Immer" is the most consistent track so far. Balancing between catchiness and grooviness, it will have every single listener headbanging -plus the breakdown drops harder than Greece's GDP in 2012 (OK, I stole this one). The first single, "Intoleranz", follows and has been a favorite since day one. A bruising assault of relentless battering, it is enrobed in an industrial-esque ambience which oddly enough seems to amplify the sheer aggressiveness of the composition. The *optimistic and not ominous at all* "Mein Inferno" is next. The song lives up to its name, being built on a massive breakdown consisting of sub-breakdowns. When the singing kicks in, it's not cute nor decorative; on the contrary, and combined with the earth-shattering bass, it creates such an overwhelming dynamic that the song becomes, for me, the most outstanding track of the album. Finally, the original song "nICHts" concludes the tracklist. Caliban further establishes here that they are the masters of their scene, highly understanding the creative aspect of that sound and that they intend to raise the bar even higher as they go. 

There's been a multitude of re-imagined songs in the recent years but the collection in "Zeitgeister" definitely takes the cake. With only 9 tracks, it proves that Caliban chose quality over quantity. I've said before and I'll say it again; Caliban raised the bar in European metal(core) even further with "Gravity" and the material that followed is consistently on par. The German lyrics feel very natural (low-key give me more motivation to learn the language) and 100% fitting the spirit of the band. 2021 restored my faith in metalcore in general, and I'm excited to see Caliban flying the flag alongside the releases we have seen so far, rightfully earning a spot in my yearlist.

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