Caliban’s melodic “I am Nemesis” sibling, “Ghost Empire,” finds the perfect balance between melody and ingenuity. Make no mistake; this record has heavy groove and towering double-bass. It’s unsettling that Caliban and other veterans are persecuted with the proverbial scarlet letter, ”metalcore.” There is richness in “Ghost Empire” that reviews are passing over; blindly missing its texture.
It’s safe to say that their departure from Adam D propelled them foreword. After doing Undying Darkness, Awakening, and Say Hello To Tragedy, Adam’s influence became too linear. Marc Gortz took the helm on “I Am Nemesis,” creating a rigid cutting sound. Enter “Ghost Empire” - the record I’ve waited for Caliban to create.
The compelling parts of “Ghost Empire” are minimally on the surface, but layered beneath. This is the crux reviewers are missing, and what I enjoy chewing on. I’m compelled to participate in each track.
Everything Caliban was missing previously is inherent on this record. “King” shows the band using violins or cellos during the end bridge. “Cries and Whispers” uses a twang that at first seems a bit southern for the band, but its delivery amplifies the mood. Caliban pushed the identity of “sound” particularly with “I am Ghost.” Its theatrical ambiance makes the song transcend “noise” to sensation. The metaphorical triptych of “I am Nemesis/I am Ghost/ I am Rebellion is a perfect way to extend themes. “nEbel” is to “Dein Reich” as “I am Ghost/I Am Rebellion” are to “Edge of Black.” In “Memorial” – Father! I have to say Goodbye to keep myself alive; in “I am Ghost” – Father! Forgive me for I have sinned.” I love these bridges to previous works. Few too bands dismiss their work and consider them closed chapters. Caliban finds numerous ways to leak “I am Nemesis” into “Ghost Empire;” it’s surreal.
The cleans are used as tools, not just “sections of a song.” Their delivery fits the genre but with a freshness. They can be short, non-existent, or at the very end. “Good Man” halts the experience briefly with a heartfelt bookend acoustic build with tuned down snares. “My Vertigo” concludes the record brilliantly. Its rhythm and groove makes the track feel denser. Towards the end, an orchestral bridge is briefly implemented that enhances its impact concluding the album.
“I Am Rebellion” is the only song where I lose focus. It’s not a bad song, but it gets a bit repetitive. Thankfully this time there are no slow ballads. You may be briefly caught off guard thinking a song is ‘going’ to be a ballad – but none exist.
Caliban crafted a dynamic experience. There is too much I can comment on. “Ghost Empire” mood is dramatic and at times, emotional. It’s at this point I see Caliban focusing more on the drama of sound, rather than playing as loud and noisy as possible. This is Caliban's ninth LP, and like a black cat I wouldn't complain if it killed them.