You cannot talk about German melodic death metal and metalcore and not mention the two giants, Caliban and Heaven Shall Burn. We are lucky to see stellar new releases from both bands. Gravity by Caliban is already on my lists of must-listen albums, and HSB’s new banger Wanderer proves to be another favorite for a long time to come.
You have to hand it to these German dudes, they know how to pump out stellar record after stellar record. I thoroughly enjoyed their Iconoclast trilogy and was curious to see in what direction they would proceed after finishing that saga. What I got from Wanderer was thirteen tracks of pure no-nonsense balls-to-the-wall melodic metalcore complete with all the tropes we love of the genre. This album is laced with high-intensity tremolo picked melodic death riffs with influences drawn straight from the Swedish melodic death metal progenitors of the genre interspersed with melodic passages and memorable choruses that stick with the listener even days after listening to them.
But boy, the guys from Saalfeld really sound pissed off in this album, the riffs are angrier than I remember, the drums are more aggressive, the bass is tighter, and vocalist Marcus Bischoff really decided to grind his vocals to a pulp in Wanderer. The lows he manages to growl out in Prey to God would make even a staunch fan of death metal nod his head in respect. He is comfortable with his raspy shrieks on Agent Orange which sound like they were ripped straight from a Norwegian black metal band. His barks on this album really want me to sit down with him and ask him if he is okay. You can feel the rage bleeding throughout the album which makes Wanderer an album that cannot be messed with.
Guitarists Maik Weichert and Alexander Dietz pushed the riffs to an eleven on this record, and even decided to put in some shreddy solo sections, like the one on Agent Orange, which frankly doesn’t even sound like a standard HSB track to me, which immediately garners praise for their attempt at variety. That being said, the album is well paced, and has beautifully written melodic sections on Corium and album closer The Cry of Mankind and acoustic ballad-esque interludes like My Heart is a Compass really serve well as a mid-album breather. Christian Bass is relentless behind the kit as well delivering blistering double-bass work as well as more thrashy sections.
Not much to say about the downsides of the album. It does feel just a bit stretched, but that’s really me just being incredibly fussy here. I do hope HSB sticks around longer and continues to write albums that carve out a special niche of German melodic death metal.
Favorite Tracks: Agent Orange, Prey to God, Downshifter.