German metalcore band Caliban returned to London for the first time in almost five years, to kick off the European tour in support of their latest album Elements – eleventh in their prolific twenty-year history.

The evening began with two warm-up sets by Bad Omens and Lionheart that got the mosh moving. The Californian hardcore outfit Lionheart especially had a lot of fans among the audience, shouting or rapping along to every word of their verses. The US band knew how to get fans on side, and a punkified cover of the Beastie Boys classic ‘Fight For Your Right’ proved their ability to start a party.

Headliners Caliban unleashed the brutal onslaught of riffs from the first second with the fast-paced ‘This Is War’ off their newest album. Frontman Andreas Dörner gave it his all and then some, jumping tirelessly across the stage and convulsing his body in pulsation with the rhythm section. He displayed a wide array of screaming styles at his disposal, ranging from deep growls to piercing shrieks. The focal point of the band’s melodic metalcore style are the extremely catchy choruses, often sung cleanly by guitarist Denis Schmidt and picked up quickly by the audience. Instrumentally the band were tight, never missing a beat from their fast galloping riffs, but as the synths in their music have become an ever-increasing presence, the fact that they were still being played through pre-recorded samples took a little away from the fullness of their sound and adding another member to the live setup would definitely benefit them.

The setlist was a best-of from the last ten years in the band’s history, with a highlight in ‘We Are The Many’ – one of the best hymns to the uniting power of heavy music that there is. Caliban also brought something from their home country, with German-language songs ‘Mein schwarzes Herz’ and ‘Ich blute für Dich’, for the latter of which they taught us a phrase to help them sing. Enthusiastically called upon for an encore, Caliban unleashed a final trio of hard-hitters. The massive-sounding ‘Memorial’ was a testament to their songwriting talent, while the closing classic ‘Nothing is Forever’ rounded off what was a great show by the German metalcore leaders.

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