Release DetailsLABEL Fullsteam Records
RELEASED ON 4/16/2004
True Nature Unfolds
posted on 7/2004 By:
There’s been an influx lately of bands making relatively straightforward metalcore but with several characteristics that give them a good deal more emotional value. Probably the best of the lot would be Isis, whose Oceanic remains one of the most played albums that I own. Others include the entirely instrumental Pelican, the very powerful Koma, and now the somewhat Christian based Callisto. Traditionally I’ve found that there’s not an abundance of emotion in music that’s based on religion (or in music that’s expressly antireligious, for that matter), so Callisto is a bit of an anomaly. Their music is mainly slow and very melodic, but always quite intense. The vocals are indistinguishably growled, which is a plus for anyone not interested in hearing their religious message (and I’d imagine that comprises most of their potential audience), but having read through the lyrics, they’re not overtly preachy and are more poetic than the lyrics of any other religious band I’ve ever read (besides possibly Sufjan Stevens, who usually stays very far away from any kind of proselytizing even though he’s a Christian artist).
Of the most closely comparable groups listed earlier, Callisto could probably be most accurately described as the direct middle ground between the more streamlined Koma and the often-meandering Isis. Where Koma’s average song length is between four and five minutes, Callisto usually stays around the six-minute mark, occasionally going longer. Their longer songs aren’t as powerful as those by Isis are, as it seems their ideas are best suited for being only slightly epic in scope. That’s no complaint, though, because only two of the songs on True Nature Unfolds are beyond six and a half minutes and only one of those overstays its welcome at all. That song is the nine-minute “Storm,” which, at its core, is very good; the beginning and end just stretch on more than necessary.
What’s striking about this new movement of metalcore, and what sets it so far apart from the rest of the metalcore scene is that there’s tons of eloquence in the songwriting. I’ve long said that the difference between hardcore and metal is that metal is much more eloquent, but this genre has proven me wrong. It’s unmistakably metalcore, but the melodies are often delicate and even the heavier moments are not so much brutal as they are overwhelmingly atmospheric. With True Nature Unfolds, Callisto proves that they have this style down extremely well, and yet they’re far more than just mimicry of the other more well-known groups like Isis.
Some highlights on this consistently strong album are “Like Abel's Blood Cried from Revenge,” and “Masonic.” “Abel’s Blood” is very slow and somewhat dreary with anguished screams and sparsely used but pleasant cleanly sung vocals. The melodies are often heart wrenching, particularly the atmospheric lead guitar playing around the three and a half minute mark. “Masonic,” on the other hand, is slightly lighter in tone but closer to pure metal. A section that begins in the last minute and a half of the song is almost like doomy progressive rock, with majestic keyboards complimenting a gorgeous melody. Really, though, every track is extremely strong and I can safely say that each listener will find him- or herself identifying with different songs more strongly. Those two happen to be highlights for me, but this isn’t by any means the type of album where I’m compelled to skip through the rest of the songs to get to those. It’s all pretty damned breathtaking.
The production is entirely suitable, allowing the desired wall of sound to be achieved when necessary but with very clear details left obvious in the quieter portions. The vocals are occasionally slightly low in the mix, but that’s not a huge qualm as each song spends most of its duration in instrumental territory. This type of music is better suited for a live environment than for CD, as the sound can completely engulf you in the proper live setting, but True Nature Unfolds sounds about as good as possible for a studio recording.
Musicianship plays an important role in this kind of music, though not in the sense that they require dazzling chops or insanely fast drumming. It’s more about playing flawlessly while achieving an extremely natural sound, like there weren’t many studio tricks used. In that sense, Callisto succeeds admirably. Every instrument is utilized to its fullest, but the sum is still far greater than each of the parts separately.
The bottom line on True Nature Unfolds is that it will prove an extremely gratifying listen to anyone even remotely interested in the style. Fans of Isis and Pelican should undoubtedly check it out, and people unfamiliar with those bands or this style wouldn’t do badly at all to use this album as a starting point. It’s destined to get many plays because of its solid songwriting that never seems to get old. If you’ve only heard the debut EP, Ordeal of the Century, and are hesitant about getting this one, let it be know that this is an extremely vast improvement over that release. The level of maturity has risen more than I would’ve imagined possible between one release and the next. Callisto goes very highly recommended.
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