Music with split personality!
Collaboration records between metal artists these days are far from being common and are something of a novelty when they do appear on the scene. It is no surprise then, that when LifeForce Records teamed up with their leading bands to create their first collaboration of full fury and force, that it became popular very fast and immediately became a classic among fans of the scene. Originally they were only featured among many other bands in this collaboration but now, Heaven Shall Burn and Caliban return with their own contribution of exclusively their own work, that is guaranteed to be a flaming hit on the scene on it's release.
Heaven Shall Burn kick off the first half of the musical battle, occupying the first six tracks of the record. Their sound is very difficult from that of many other "Scream Scene" bands in that it appears to have a much more melodically structured approach, with even the roaring vocals showing strict displays of tonal and melodic skill. Still, this by no means suggests that Heaven Shall Burn do not know how to make a noise, they just know how to do it with artistic flair and incredible skill! Also admirable is their ability to contrast completely different styles and approaches of music and still make them flow together as one from track to track, a skill which many bands on the same level still have to work on, or even yet learn! 'Unleash Enlightenment' kicks in with a vicious assault of booming drumming that is as harsh as gunshots to the ears and screaming guitars that slash their way through the battle fire of music and make their demands known. This track is musical enlightenment in itself in that it speaks of a lot of issues that others would dare not touch, the same goes for the similar closing track 'Destroy Fascism'. These tracks are very similar in their musical assault, starting off with a fast paced, electrifying pulse that courses through the mists of dark imagination with an unstoppable and addictive force. Gruff and resonating vocals ride the guitar melodies that dodge the gunshots of the raging drum beats, creating a syncopated and interwoven sound during the chorus, allowing a kind of safety valve for all the out of control, spiralling chaos of the verses. The only difference between the opening track and the closing track of Heaven Shall Burn's half of the album is that the closing track is dowsed heavily in the scent of hatred and betrayal, whereas the first track resonates more of a biter yet wistful remorse. It may be argued that there is little difference in these moods, but certainly the difference is there and very prominent in this case.
Call and response also seems to be a popular technique with this German band, particularly in the second track which works wonders for the general feel and sound of the music, 'No One Will Shed a Tear' is aggressive, bitter and yet so beautiful and emotive in it's composure that even the simplest musical technique really sounds like a magnificent act of genius. However, despite this, it is the one non metallic sounding track on the album that really packs the punch, sounding more gothic then metalcore and making the band really stand out above all other bands of this genre. While synthesised organ sounds and threatening electronic effects are as popular as ever with Heaven Shall Ball, it can't beat the sound of a real remorseful violin and it's accompaniment of a gently weeping piano that "Nyfaoedd Voi" brings with it. It is this blindingly different instrumental approach that brings out that true appreciation that Heaven Shall Burn have for music and the emotions that go with it. Oddly enough, because of it's composure, this track alone does what a million screaming bands put together could not and resonates more bitter sorrow then any hate fuelled screeching song ever could. It shows Heaven Shall Burn in a completely different light and proves that even the hardest and scariest of metal bands have their softer sides.
Caliban soon takes over, opening the second half of this offering with sheer poetic force. Playing as if their guitars were poker-hot, the band show an incredible amount of skill and do well to prove that they are just as powerful and versatile in their style of playing as their partners. Yet, Caliban ultimately prove one of the biggest negative points in metalcore by introducing melodic and clear lyrical vocals in the chorus. With this brief appearance of sheer power that could bring even the toughest cynic to their knees, it's a wonder that they decide to go back to screaming their lungs out when it clearly has less of a driving force or hold on the listener. This is what ultimately lets a lot of bands down in this culture, still Caliban have the balance right and it's enough to make them stand out from those bands who simply take the rough approach to the extreme without trying anything else. Caliban does, however, demonstrate incredibly well the sheer sinister qualities of their metal. Another fan of call and response, Caliban embrace the same guitaring sounds that haunt the melodies of a lot of Rammstein's older music and also the almost mocking wailing of the riffs from A perfect Circle's 'Pet'. These add a mysterious touch of spice to the already riveting and driving symphony of hatred that abounds in 'A Summer Dream' and 'One more Lie'. Caliban are the flip side of the coin, the black side of the chessboard while Heaven Shall Burn are white in comparison. Caliban is certainly the more brutal of the two.
An Explosive collaboration of style by all means, these bands flow together as if it had been that the two bands had become one force raging into the depths and horizons of metal. Indeed it seems that this is very much the idea behind the whole album but with their trademark sounds being more then just a little different, it is also refreshing and gives the listener a chance to appreciate the grounds that metal-core covers from the viewpoint of two similar yet hauntingly different bands. Fans of the first collaboration will not be disappointed, and as for new followers, the album comes with a full satisfaction guaranteed factor that will simply blow minds.