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Caligula's Horse: Rise Radiant

With 2017's In Contact, Caligula's Horse had finally embraced the full extent of their potential and put out a truly magnificent piece of art, combining heavy and thunderous guitar work with Jim Grey's soaring, beautiful vocals. With such an ambitious statement, one was left to wonder if the band would ever be able to reach the bar set by their own hands.
 Sadly, 2020's Rise Radiant provides a negative answer to that question. While the Australian prog-metallers have not been able to write a near-perfect album again, they have put out a solid piece of work.

Rise Radiant ticks most boxes when it comes to what fans expect of the band. "The Tempest" - the opening track and the lead single - starts the album triumphantly, blending djent with a chorus that gets stuck in your head from the first listen. The pinch of spice in the new Caligula's Horse dish is the nu-metal influence, evident in Train of Thought-esque "Slow Violence". Between the blaring riff onslaughts and Grey's characteristic high-pitched voice, the band provides small windows of reprieve, the most important of which being "Autumn" - a ballad as beautiful as it is soothing amidst all the meaty and overwhelming guitar work.

Two tracks on the album combine the two aforementioned aspects of the band, and once again it results in displays of Australians' musical brilliance. On the previous album the product of such marriage was the epic finale of "Graves", and the spirit of In Contact's magnificent closer can be heard in two of the best tracks on Rise Radiant. "Salt" and "The Ascent" are by far the strongest moments of the album - the former being a piano-driven ballad with an occasional riff whiplash and a beautiful guitar solo by Sam Vallen, and the latter, while at first attacking the poor listener with a barrage of aggressive riffs, promptly softens and transforms into one of the most beautiful metal songs I've ever heard in my life. "Before we can rise, we must be laid low", sings Grey, and that line represents the closing piece of Rise Radiant perfectly - "The Ascent" quickly becomes a sublime and dignified progressive metal epic, worthy of a spot next to the greatest of the genre. Eleven minutes pass in a blink of an eye while listening to this fantastic piece.

Sadly, these are not the only tracks on the album. The nu-metal "Valkyrie" fails to make an impact, and "Oceanrise", while not even cracking the five-minute mark, drags on so much that it feels twice as long. "Resonate" is a redundant track, being just a soft interlude that adds pretty much nothing to the whole experience.

As a whole, the new Caligula's Horse album is a problematic beast - it lacks in consistency, but the highs of the album can be placed among the whole genre's finest pieces. In the end it still provides a pleasant experience, albeit not as cohesive as In Contact. While not surpassing the insanely high bar set by their 2017 effort, Rise Radiant provides hope for the future. The band has shown that they're capable of writing brilliant albums before. I'm sure the Horse will be galloping again in no time.

Jim Grey - lead vocals
Sam Vallen - lead guitar, "everything else"
Adrian Goleby - guitar
Dale Prinsse - bass
Josh Griffin - drums

Track listing:
1. The Tempest
2. Slow Violence
3. Salt
4. Resonate
5. Oceanrise
6. Valkyrie
7. Autumn
8. The Ascent

Added: October 31st 2020
Reviewer: Maciej Slowik
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 1095
Language: english

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