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Caligula's Horse: Bloom

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.

Track Listing
1. Bloom
2. Marigold
3. Firelight
4. Dragonfly
5. Rust
6. Turntail
7. Daughter Of The Mountain
8. Undergrowth

Added: January 1st 2016
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2512
Language: english

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Caligula's Horse: Bloom
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2016-01-01 10:25:17
My Score:

Sometimes albums take time to grow and sometimes they resonate with me almost immediately. Bloom is one such album that hit me right away. They seem to have that certain 'something', that intangible factor that makes a band special and let me tell you Caligula's Horse is a special band.

The Brisbane-based band formed in 2011 by vocalist Jim Grey and Sam Vallen (guitars) and their debut Moments From Ephemeral City was released that same year. Because the band wanted to take their songs on the road they needed more players so they added Zac Greensill (guitar), Dave Couper (bass) and Geoff Irish (drums). Thus the present day Caligula's Horse was formed.

Bloom is the band's third effort, the follow up to 2013's The Tide, the Thief & River's End. Bloom is the only album of the band I have heard thus far but after listening to this for quite a while now I will be exploring their back catalogue in the near future.

A sweet guitar arpeggio and beautiful lead vocals begin the title track in a serene fashion. Background guitar and/or keys add a moody atmospheric layer as the music gently flows in a subtle yet passionate way. Deliciously atmospheric lead guitar transports the listener into Pink Floyd territory but not overtly so as this band is a copycat of no one. The music stops, then sudden bursts of dramatic intensity has me thinking Haken, another tremendously talented band. The track leads directly into "Marigold" and its tasty metallic riff progressions. The heaviness eases when the vocals start but the intensity rises in waves that again remind of Haken's more dramatic moments. The changes in tempo and contrast between heavy and light are executed flawlessly. Two of the more accessible tracks are "Firelight" and "Turntail" with the former featuring a catchy chorus with maybe a hint of Coldplay thrown in while the latter has gentle guitar chords turning into heavier riffage complete with subtle tempo changes and a ripping guitar solo. Again, the transitions between softer and heavier passages are seamless.

Perhaps the album's best song is "Rust" where the double kick drums and angry vocal tone gives it an edgier vibe while the off kilter riffs takes it into the realm of progressive metal.

The album ends with the acoustically pleasant "Undergrowth" showcasing Grey's crystal clean lead vocals.

Bloom has to be one of 2015's biggest surprises, especially given the fact they were completely off my radar. One of the best releases of the year!

An InsideOut Music production.

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