While the pandemic has resulted in a slew of interesting narratives, there are two that really seem to have resonated with the culture of heavy music the most. With the world on halt and normalcy essentially turned on its head, the ability to pivot was something that has been crucial, if not essential.
The other consistent theme is the idea of refocus - hitting the stop button on life is something that most people would have never known to be a reality and when it happened, it forced everyone to take inventory of what they prioritized.
For German metalcore veterans Caliban, the happenstance of time away from the grind offered the ability to assess their more than two decade long career as one of genre's pioneering units. With a catalog that includes 11 full length studio albums, two split EPs with Heaven Shall Burn, and a global audience of devoted fans, the band found themselves reflecting not only reflecting on their impact thus far, but motivated to continuously break new ground.
Sourcing one of their early covers from fellow countrymen Rammstein, Caliban's rendition of "Sonne" sparked a concept that had long been something the band yearned to explore further - a complete album in their native language. Three years removed from their last album release in Elements, Caliban opted take advantage of the time on their hands and finally dive into a project that they had always wanted to pursue and now finally had the ability to.
The result was Caliban's forthcoming EP in Zeitgeister. An aggregate of seven tracks spanning the band's illustrious career, release not only revisits some of the unit's most beloved anthems but adds a fresh new presentation in that all of the tracks are now entirely in German. Punctuated by a brand new track in "nICHts" that marries all too well with the collection of older tracks, Zeitgeister presents a retrospective that to revitalize the classics in a way that translates as fresh and showcases the band's cultural connection just the same.
Founding frontman Andeas Doerner offered his take on what prompted the unique project and what it has been like taking stock of the past in an effort to establish the future of Caliban.
What has it been like taking inventory of your 25-year career in working on this retrospective in Zeitgeister?
Doerner - It was like a little trip back in time. You were reminded of certain shows and how it was back then. Apart from that you realized how many songs you have already written.
Other than the connection to countrymen, what prompted you to cover Rammstein's song, 'Sonne’?
Doerner - Rammstein is one of the greatest bands that exist and their songs are pure power live. It was my first time to sing completely in German and I guess there was no better role model for it than Rammstein.
Tell us more about the composition of Zeitgeister and why it was important to revisit previous tracks instead of an album of entirely new material.
Doerner - We never really wanted to do a whole album in German, but because of the pandemic we had time for an experiment. It should be something special and not only a German album, so the idea came up to reinterpret old classics of ours and translate them into German. The work on the songs was challenging in making everything feel new without losing the original song. It wasn’t easy, but very interesting.
What do you think it says about the staying power of Caliban that songs written literally decades ago could be paired with new music like "nICHts"
Doerner - Because of the fact that the old songs were refreshed, it's hard to compare them, but you could say that the old songs had already good potential.
What was the experience working with Benjamin Richter on this album?
Doerner - It’s always a pleasure to work with him. He already worked with us on some of the original tracks. He has always great ideas and it was fun transforming the english lyrics into German.
Where does the band stand on live streaming/virtual concerts in the age of COVID? Is the plan to hold off to be able to share the live experience of the band in the flesh or are you aching to perform in any way you can?
Doerner - To be honest, we're no big fans of streaming shows. It feels weird to perform just in front of cameras, but we're thinking about to do something like a streaming release show for 'Zeitgeister'. I can’t wait to be back on a stage in front of REAL people!
The past year has been difficult for EVERYONE including musicians worldwide. How did the climate of 2020 effect the momentum of the band? Was there any thought to putting this project off?
Doerner - Never. It’s very tough and challenging, but we'll pull through it. We all have small side jobs which helps with the money issues and we're already working on a new full length album... so we keep ourselves busy.
After 25 years in the game, what continues to keep the band motivated to refine your craft and remain aggressive?
Doerner - It’s in our blood I guess. It’s family. It‘s business. It‘s love. It’s the people who give us so much back, supporting us, sharing their energy at shows. I won’t miss this.
'Zeitgeister' arrives May 14th via Century Media Records. Pre-order the album - HERE