ALBUM REVIEW: Caligula’s Horse – ‘Rise Radiant’

Words by Tracey Moyle – The Music Maven

There is a buzz of excitement amongst fans of Brisbane contemporary progressive metal trailblazers’ Caligula’s Horse with the band set to release fifth studio album ‘Rise Radiant’.  Produced by their very own multi talented Sam Vallen and mixed by Jens Bogren  (Opeth, Devin Townsend Project, Leprous), the album will drop May 22 with brilliant new insights into the creative collective of this band.

Sitting firmly in the progressive genre, Caligula’s Horse always seem to be so much more and this album is evidence, bringing forward breath taking musical offerings and emotionally intelligent tales told in song.   Their music is raw and honest, honed with a gift of empathy and understanding behind every word, every note and every beat. They are masters of taking the listener on a journey throughout their musical verse.

Our local Music Maven and Caligula’s Horse fan, Tracey Moyle was given the opportunity to review ‘Rise Radiant’ and has happily put her first impressions down for those eager for an insight into what to this new album offers.

Always expecting something special from C Horse it was such a privilege to be amongst the first to hear their new album.  And let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint.

Kicking off ‘Rise Radiant’, and the first single released, The Tempest opens up and carries you off with a charge of instruments masterfully coming together to create a perfect merger.

Front man Jim Grey, the perfect storyteller, has a vocal eloquence begging you to follow along like a magical piper, his range carrying you emotively, like few artists can.  Lead guitarist Sam Vallen is a magician with the ability to combine his perfected technical skills and emotional intent playing with perfect clarity.  Add in the mastery of Adrian Goleby – guitar, Dale Prinsse– bass and drummer Josh Griffin, the band come together, each bringing their skill sets to the fore with a stunning opening track. 

Slow Violence, the second single, draws you in immediately, sparking your curiosity, leaving you begging to know where this song is heading.  Lyrically it captures you in and holds you there.  Musically it has an almost stripped back, minimalistic feel giving each member their own platform, yet coming together leaving you with the impact of a much bigger sound. The video for Slow Violence, was produced by the multi talented Goleby and Prinsse.  

From soft keys to energetic riffs to Grey openingwith smooth gentle vocals and Griffin on drums controlling the tempo, Salt is a musical kaleidoscope. There is complexity in the simplicity of this song, something C Horse are masters at creating, weaving intricacies into what can appear the simplistic of songs.  Vallen makes his guitar speak as if it has it’s own voice.   The band coming together as skilled masters of their craft, five different incantations woven together at the same time to create the perfect conjuring.   

The pace drops for the fourth track.  Resonate paints a melancholic hue throughout this song with Grey finding the perfect vocal tone, resonating himself, with the energy of the songs message. “Did the music die in the quiet or did it give me room to resonate?”  Capturing and holding a mood is perfected here.  Where Resonate holds steady, Ocean Rise builds, like a wave to the point of breaking.  Goleby and Vallen create the urgency, evoking a feeling of need, to look at what’s coming behind you.  I feel this track whispers to you, urging the listener to get moving.  The lyrics encouraging; “Be the flood. Be the Ocean” with Vallen’s solo so perfectly pure and honest it lifts you and carries you along.

Next, with a barrage of riffs opening up into Valkyrie with a force, the listener is directed down a musical path.  In contrast the verse opens up vocally in this dynamic track with deliberately softer vocals placed throughout.  I feel this is a battle song for the fight and the fallen, appropriate given the title.  After a battle you always look back at the journey and the reflective tone of Autumn follows perfectly, adding a gentle hue to the classic big guitars and vocals.  Musically it brings a gentleness and respect to our ‘Autumn years’, a contemplation of what has past and what is still to come.  It’s seems to take a reflective view on life, “time waits for no one” with the message – with time comes change.   Grey’s heartfelt tone is perfect, capturing a feeling of looking back through the eyes of a life, full of experience, marking the way for those to follow.

Changing pace again, The Ascent is a belter taking the album back to the heavier side.  Every member is present and accounted for, awakening the senses, in preparation for Grey’s ascent into the vocal narrative.  Like a master thespian Grey carries the listener away on the journey with the production holding every piece together as a collective, laying the bricks pieces by piece for the listener to travel along, taking the album out with an epic 10:42 track in true progressive style with perfected skill.   Screaming riffs, thumping rhythm falling into gentle guitar accompanied vocals, The Ascent tells the story with conviction. A brilliant finale.

Only eight tracks on the album but you get what you always expect from this band, absolute quality over quantity.  These guys do nothing by halves.  You could have ‘Rise Radiant’ playing in the background but if you are planning on getting work done, forget it, you will be absorbed by the journey and swept away by the music.   Caligula’s Horse always have drawn me in for the simplest reason; they capture the pure energy of life and skilfully project that feeling, that energy, right back to the listener, leaving you reaching for the play button again and again.

‘Rise Radiant’  is out May 22

Pre-order your copy HERE

With thanks to Dallas Does PR and Inside Out Music

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