The Undying Darkness

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If you thought Anthrax had a tough time defending their band moniker in the aftermath of 9/11, try walking in Caliban's shoes. But one measly letter separates the German quintet from premature dismissal by millions of dyslexics -- who knew that taking your name from a minor Shakespearian character would lead to such controversy? Luckily for Caliban, their long years of service to melodic metalcore -- a genre they helped pioneer -- have helped them amass more than enough fans to circumvent this problematic coincidence. That pioneering status also explains why the band's fifth full album, 2006's The Undying Darkness, gives little thought to drastic sonic reinvention, but focuses instead on their chosen style's most essential core values -- let their followers come up with novel new ideas! Consequently, Caliban's songs for this occasion remain remarkably aware of their commercial potential -- no matter how extreme some of their passages may be. In fact, it's the stark contrast between those bone-crushing riffs and soul-lifting harmonies, Cookie Monster growls and soaring clean vocals, that fuels the very best among them (see "It's Our Burden to Bleed," "My Fiction Beauty," and "No More 2nd Chances"). And speaking of alternating vocal styles, besides allowing the use of parentheses in your lyric sheet (cool!), their other major advantage is helping to broaden frontman Andy Dörner's almost exclusively first-person narratives, thereby making "Song About Killing" and "I Refuse to Keep on Living..." all the more terrifying, and "I Rape Myself" and "Sick of Running Away" a little less whiney. Finally, there's an astoundingly uncompromising death metal cover of Björk's "Army of Me" (featuring additional vocals by Tanja Keilen) adding that one, unexpected little surprise to help round out Caliban's latest solid effort.

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