For their third release Bloom, Brisbane's Caligula's Horse find themselves on InsideOut Music, a perfect home for their thought provoking, atmospheric progressive metal. The current line-up of the band includes Jim Grey (Lead Vocals), Zac Greensill (Guitar/Vocals), Dave Couper (Bass/Vocals), Geoff Irish (Drums), and Sam Vallen (Guitar, keyboards), and they've put together 8 songs here on Bloom that combine the muscular complexity of progressive metal with the atmospheric, ethereal, spacey quality of Anathema, Riverside, Porcupine Tree, and Pink Floyd. It's an intriguing mix, and quite enjoyable.
With the opening title track, you really get to hear the more melodic, atmospheric side of the band, with lush instrumentation and gorgeous vocal crooning, which the band then switches gears for the more aggressive "Marigold", complete with chugging guitar work and layers of vocal hooks. Comparisons to Anathema are unstoppable on the majestic "Firelight", a dreamy pop rocker that showcases the beautiful vocals of Grey and the bands ability to craft some lovely, memorable hooks. "Dragonfly" is one of the CDs lengthier tracks, an intense yet melodic prog-metal epic that fluctuates between shimmering atmospherics and crushing metal passages, with a neat middle section featuring complex interplay between guitars and drums that would fit right in on a Dream Theater or Frank Zappa record. Images of Opeth pop up on the raging and quite textured "Rust", one of Bloom's more complex pieces, chock full of stellar guitar work and soaring vocals, while the groove laden "Turntail" blends progressive rock, metal, and funk for a wild ride. The band churns out another slab of epic, atmospheric metal with the intricate "Daughter Of The Mountain", and ends the album on a somber note with the acoustic "Undergrowth", another fine vehicle for Grey's gorgeous vocals.
Bloom is ultimately a very fine album from a band that's more than willing to do something a little different from the norm. Caligula's Horse play progressive metal that's not all about showing off and unleashing torrents of virtuoso interplay; sure, there are little bits of that here in spots, but Bloom succeeds thanks to sweeping, alluring melodies, fantastic vocals, effecting bursts of heaviness, and complexity just when the songs need it, but never to be the focal point. Job well done.
7. Daughter Of The Mountain