The desire for a do-over is central to the human experience. We all mess up and would love another chance to try again, whether it’s in sports (the mulligan is my favorite part of golf), relationships, work, or even art. Here at the best (and only) place you can read what I think about music, I did not give a favorable review to Caliban’s 2016 opus Gravity and generally have not been a big fan of the German band.
This sentiment is odd, given their status as a legendary metalcore band who have maintained an excellence and relevance since the late 90s, a style I have loved for over twenty years now (indeed, I am old, and my back hurts …).
While I know Caliban did not conceive of and create Zeitgeister for my benefit, it seems as though this fascinating exercise was all it took for me to reevaluate both my stance on the band and raise my cumulative ranking of the band’s records here at New Noise. The record is a career retrospective of sorts. Caliban had never released an album entirely in their native tongue, and instead of simply recording their biggest hits with new German vocals, Zeitgeister allowed the band the chance to take seven deep cuts throughout their history and reimagine them entirely.
Lyrics, compositions, performances, and recording styles have all changed throughout the record, resulting in a record that highlights Caliban’s unique ability to sound as heavy and as melodic as humanly possible. The band’s clear love of German electronic metal (called Neue Deutsche Harte) is evident, giving the hooks a clear Rammstein influence, while the band’s recent embrace of progressive/djent influences gels wonderfully throughout the record. The album’s best songs (“Herz,” “Feuer Zieh Mit Mir,” an “Intoleranz”) highlight just how well Caliban understands dynamics and musical suspense without totally abandoning their melodeath past. They’re both a career encapsulation and a nod to the idea that Caliban’s best output may very well be ahead of them.
That last point is important and what maybe impressed me the most throughout Zeitgeister – how is a band who created an album during the pandemic of songs they thought needed more love getting better nearly 25 years into their career? The answer, at least for me, is simple: I just wasn’t really paying attention. The fact that it took an album that isn’t in a language I understand is even funnier. Caliban’s past, present, and future were/is/are bright.
Order the record here.