September 30, 2020

…sit, listen and study and it opens a route direct to your soul. This is not your average disposable rock album but a work of art…

It seems to have been rather a long wait for album number five to be released by Caligula’s Horse but, in truth, it is only three years – yet it seems so much longer, as we have all been keen to hear the latest work from this masterful band that seems to grow exponentially with each new release. Formed in 2011 in Brisbane, Caligula’s Horse must be one of the finest progressive rock bands to emerge from ‘down under’ and each one of their cherished albums has seen them take a quantum leap forwards. It’s progressive rock for sure but with the addition of thrilling elements of prog metal the band teases and delights in equal measure with cunning and thought provoking complexities including time signatures, masterful playing and long, extended epics that are melodic, melancholic and brimming over with emotion. Originally, you could detect elements of Yes, Genesis and Enchant in the sound, but the band has shown considerable progression over the years and now has its own unique and individual identity which thrills to the core.

Always an inspired, eclectic and colourful band, Caligula’s Horse moved into a different class entirely with 2017’s dark and moodily magnificent concept album In Contact which really broke the band, and quite rightly the proper and critical and commercial success was forthcoming. With all this already in place, the expectation levels for the new album were already very high and it is so pleasing to report that Rise Radiant builds beautifully and perfectly on what has gone before. There is a central theme to the piece concerning human experience, and this sees the band run the gamut of emotion which makes for a real roller coaster of a journey during which they pull just about every string that controls the human psyche. For sure, you can play the album and appreciate it as a thoroughly entertaining modern progressive rock album – but sit, listen and study and it opens a route direct to your soul. This is not your average disposable rock album but a work of art that should and will be by your side as you stride confidently through life itself.

Jim Grey is a true poet with his vocals being sublime and so, so perfect and as multi-faceted as only a diamond can be. His delivery is very similar to Thom York and Bruce Soord, with emotion being his forte rather than sheer power, and his fellow musicians take this as the lead to create a soundscape that is so soulful and measured with not a note wasted or in the wrong place. Sam Vallen is simply amazing on lead guitar with his jaw dropping licks that are somewhere between the ethereal work of Steven Wilson and the intense magic of Enchant’s Doug Ott with Adrian Goleby being most accomplished on second guitar. Josh Griffen lays down an intense and inspired drumbeat which is the heart of the band over which Dale Prinsse plays tasteful bass that drives the sound forward with each musician being in total harmony and seemingly telepathically connected. The album is made up of eight tracks that work so well together, and could be one seamless work, such is the way that the material inspires, thrills and chills in equal measure. If you are a fan or Porcupine Tree, Pain Of Salvation, Opeth, Haken or Pineapple Thief then this is a band that you cannot ignore with Rise Radiant being as essential as any album can be. Some music is ideal for the car, some for chilling, and some as background noise – and that’s fine as we all are different and our emotional state changes, so we nurture it in different ways. Because, let’s face it, sometimes we need Motörhead and other times it might be Verdi, but if you are looking for an experience, adventure and fulfilment then reach for Caligula’s Horse and, particularly, Rise Radiant. Really, progressive rock just does not get better than this.

Track list: The Tempest (04:50), Slow Violence (04:32), Salt (07:40), Resonate (02:37), Oceanrise (04:37), Valkyrie (05:11), Autumn (07:51), The Ascent (10:42), Don’t Give Up (05:14) (bonus track), Message To My Girl (03:56) (bonus track).