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German metalcore juggernaut Caliban are back with their unprecedented thirteenth full-length studio album in a career that’s only approaching the quarter-century mark. The new record, ‘Dystopia’, is every bit as unrelenting and earth-scorching as the heaviest entries in the band’s discography thus far – spanning eleven dynamic tracks of pummeling drums and bass, shredding guitar riffs, and gut-punching gutturals that build into ground-shaking battle cries. Led by founding vocalist Andreas Dörner and lead guitarist Marc Görtz, the band’s newest entry follows the Essen based quintet’s first offering fully performed in their native German tongue (2021’s ‘Zeitgeister’).
“We had already begun working on ‘Dystopia’, but then changed our plans and decided to complete work on the ‘Zeitgeister’ EP first…then we continued seamlessly with Dystopia. It was quite a change, especially because we had a lot more possibilities in our native language, but since we write mostly in English we were quickly back in the old ‘modus operandi’.”
Kicking things off with the record’s title track, “Dystopia” opens with a brilliantly gothic arrangement of synth-heavy keys, with Dörner’s blackened vocal bombast delivering the perfect forewarning before dragging deeper into destruction. The band recruited Annisokay frontman Christoph Wieczorek to deliver the soaring vocals on the track’s chorus, contrasting perfectly with the brutality that otherwise encompasses the song on all fronts. “We all like Christoph’s voice a lot and I’m a big fan of their latest album, so we thought that he’d be the perfect fit for this song, and I guess we were right.”
Digging further into the marriage between sinister and unsanctimonious, the eerily haunting guitars licks and hushed passages that open “Ascent Of The Blessed” quickly explode into vicious salvos and bittersweet pleas for survival – all the while boasting the band’s well-honed nuance for implementing digital effects that deliver a more texturally rich and dynamic affair. The following track, “VirUS”, delivers one of the most anthemic, thuddingly brutal and venomous moments on the record – brought to a head by a guest appearance from Marcus Bischoff of Heaven Shall Burn, for whom the band has their fair share of experience collaborating with.
“We have a long history together with Marcus and Heaven Shall Burn, started making music at the same time and have worked together many times. We decided to follow the same path as my feature on the song “Terminate The Unconcern’ from HSB’s last album, ‘Of Truth And Sacrifice’. Our voices complement each other perfectly in this song.”
Throughout ‘Dystopia’, Caliban sets a standard of delivering punishing instrumental arrangements that flourish into undeniably powerful hooks. Though the results continue to grow stronger with each new record, the band’s methodology for achieving these results haven’t changed – signaling the importance of consistency and conviction in their music. “Our writing process is always: Music/Instrumental -> Lyrics/Vocals -> Assembling and Fine Tuning,” adding, “Sometimes the first ideas that come from my gut are best when I hear the riffs.”
As crucial on the band’s newest studio album as any to date, bassist Marco Schaller and drummer Patrick Grün make every track on ‘Dystopia’ feel like a flurry of body blows that perfectly accentuate Dörner’s heart-wrenching growls. At the very height of this unholy union, songs like “Darkness I Became” and “Dragon” scorch a path of savagery that promises to be new crowd favorites in the pit, wit the latter of the two tracks features a final guest appearance – this one coming from the inimitable Jonny Davy of Job For A Cowboy. “We needed a monster/’dragon’. Jonny was the perfect choice – his voice on that part of the song is outstanding.”
Closing out with absolute rippers like the riff-drenched “Hibernate” and the unnerving monstrosity of “The World Breaks Everyone”, ‘Dystopia’ is a record that holds no punches in its grudges and undaunted dismay. With more than two decades of experience melting faces and empowering fans to face the darkness with unshakable resolve, Caliban display their battle tested strength in these times that more than call for it. Their newest effort might be an acknowledgement of dark times, but let Dystopia prove as a thunderous statement that Caliban will hold strong until the final breath.