Caligula’s Horse – 'Rise Radiant' [Album Review]
REVIEW: Ben Coe
Prog giants Caligula’s Horse are gearing up to release their fifth, and arguably best, album to date; Rise Radiant. Having enjoyed many successes since their formation 9 years ago, the boys from Brisbane have carved a name for themselves in stone across the country and abroad and listening to this album it’s easy to see why.
It’s all systems go from the first notes of album opener The Tempest and from there forward it’s anemotionally beautiful ride through some of the best prog rock this country has to offer. It’s hard and disjointed while also being elegant and graceful, thanks mostly in part to frontman Jim Grey’s stunning vocals. The passion and conviction in which he delivers his vocal poetry is incredibly infectious.
Always ones to thrive on technical proficiency, Rise Radiant sees the collective of talented musicians, led by founding guitarist Sam Vallen, take their skills to a whole other level. The guitar work alone on this album is world-class but when coupled with the driving force of the rhythm section, comprised of drummer Josh Griffin and newly acquired bassist/backing vocalist Dale Prinsse, it becomes that much more monumental.
Second single Slow Violence hints at a more aggressive tinge to the music that will have you toe-tapping your way to the chorus, all the while Greycontinues with his lavish vocal mastery leading heavily into a soaring sing-along. Salt, on the other hand, is a much more prog-laden affair showcasing the vast array of emotion and incredible songwriting ability that Caligula’s Horse have become known for. It’s a journey from quiet start to epic finale and truly does encapsulate all of the diverse influences this band.
This gives way to the halfway point and the softest song on offer here, Resonate, whose serene stylings stand out beautifully amongst the fray. Again, Grey shines bright and above his vocal peers all without using the full potential of his range. But then it’s straight back to the powerful energy of the first half of the album with the double-whammy of Oceanrise and latest single Valkyrie bringing the aural expedition to it’s climactic heights with the undeniably stunning Autumn, yet another semi-subdued affair that stands tall in it’s place amongst the giants that surround it.
All this leads up to one thing and one thing alone; the lofty conclusion of The Ascent. Boasting possibly the heaviest introduction to any of these songs here, the 10+ minute epic straps you in for a hell of a ride and by the time the album’s final note sounds you will be left breathless, wanting more.
Caligula’s Horse are one of those bands with no bad albums to their name and Rise Radiant stands testament to that fact. The boys have truly outdone themselves and surely will continue to do so in the years to come.
Caligula’s Horse - Rise Radiant is out on May 22. PRE-ORDER RISE RADIANT HERE
Photo: Rachel Graham