Callejon - Videodrom (Nuclear Blast/Riot)

Callejon are a German band variously described as metalcore, zombiecore, Screamometal and even Videometal. Their new album, Videodrom, is equally hard to categorise.

Callejon describes itself as "A furious mix of all out metal and emotional melodies" but to me they never really go all out with the metal and the melodies are not really very emotional. The whole thing is a little bit flat and uninspired.

If you're a fan of the metalcore sound, you'll probably find a lot to like on this release. The riffs are tight, there's a lot of speedy guitaring going on and an almost power metal groove to a lot of the songs. The vocals are the gutteral almost-screaming that you'd expect from the genre. The bass and drums are as tight as the riffs. So what's wrong with it?

The production overall is a bit flat. A better production might have lifted more light and shade in the sounds whereas it's all a bit blurred into a muddy brown as it stands. There's some interesting sampling in the record and Callejon talk about how an album needs to be more than the music - it needs to be an artwork, visually as well as aurally, with covers and videos an integral part of the whole. Perhaps this album would be better as part of an immersive experience, Clockwork Orange style, assaulted by the band's vision as well as its music. Though I doubt it.

The band's technical ability is clear throughout. The album is more interesting than the usual metalcore clones that pretty much copy each other ad infinitum and don't churn out anything original. The mix of differing vocal styles on Videodrom, the sampling, the song construction, all these things set Callejon apart a bit and make this album interesting.

But that's all it is for me - interesting. It's not outstanding. I don't get the urge to play it over and over. The album seems a bit undecided on what it wants to be and that leaves me undecided on whether I want to give it any more of my valuable listening time.

The album finishes with the eight-and-a-half minute long Gott Ist Tot (God Is Dead), which is like a snapshot of the whole album. It starts very melodic, rushes up into some screaming power, riffs along for a while then slinks back into melody and quiet arpreggios. It follows this cycle a couple of times before gently playing out. It's interesting. But it's nothing outstanding. The final song is like a mini version of the whole album.

If you are a die-hard metalcore fan then I'm sure this is the kind of thing that's a breath of fresh air in the style. I'm not the biggest fan, but I can be swayed by a real quality record. For me, this isn't it.

Callejon's Videodrom is out now on Nuclear Blast/Riot.