CALIGULA’S HORSE is an Australian band which lately seems to be the land of great fresh Prog music like NE OBLIVISCARIS for example. It’s signed with InsideOut Records, along with the world’s best Prog Metal bands.
Their 2015 album “Bloom” was my top pick in LebMetal’s Top Releases of 2015, but this review will focus more on discussing the elements that make this album great.
The album opens with a self-titled track “Bloom” (3:15 min) which starts with a soft acoustic intro and climaxes into an emotionally charged chorus:
“On your feet now,
Wake up, wake up
And soon you’ll see that
All hope is not lost
“Bloom” is a perfect album intro and ends as a perfect transition to the next track “Marigold” (6:19 min), having one of the best riffs in Metal, simultaneously heavy and soft. Arrays of clean guitar notes bombard you with reverb, and bass lines flow smoothly to every next blow of heavy riffs. The guitar solos on this album are never long, but still combine perfect feelings and fast techniques in harmony (wait ’till we get to the track “Turntail”). Again, beautiful melodic lyrics stick to one’s head:
“Feed my soul.
Force a smile.
Ignore the hole,
Wishing like hell that I was still god,
With nothing above me.”
After those heavy moods, it’s time for something mellow with “Fireflight” (4:38 min). It’s built on a soft melody, and simple yet strong bass lines go with it. Drum lines have more of a melodic form and give the track a Pop feel – a candidacy for a radio-friendly single. Though it’s listener-friendly and smooth, it gains value and expands as you start to notice the details and layers after several listens.
Next comes “Dragonfly” (9:24 min) opening with romantic acoustic guitar and then moving into a heavier drive with the same melody that suddenly becomes centered on a world of destruction and defeat. That’s one of the signature approaches of CALIGULA’S HORSE; they could mislead you into a world that suddenly shifts but eventually makes more sense.
“Rust” (5:32 min) brings back the heavy elements of the band; Metal riffs sounding Power metal at times and Core style breakdowns. “Rust” does not come as a surprise in the album’s flow; it’s right where it should be. The album takes you through waves of up and down, heavy and light, emotional and dry. Just imagine what the sound behind these raging word is like. “So fuck your prayer for rain. Pray for rust”. I would rate it as one of the best Heavy tracks of 2015.
As I am listening to the album while writing this review, just by reading the title track “Turntail” (5:02 min), I directly remember the “High” that its guitar solo gives me. It’s not only the solo that makes it beautiful, but every melody leading to it is beautiful, and it makes the track perfectly carry the emotions. There’s a lot of work on details and a perfect harmony between instruments; if you listen to the track and only focus on the basslines, it will keep you entertained, and same thing applies if you simply listen to the drum lines, and so on…
Now his next track “Daughter of the Mountain” (7:55 min) did not seem to impress me at first listen but I turned out to be so wrong. It started to remind me of RISHLOO’s “Living as Ghosts with Buildings as Teeth” (an album you must check if you have not), especially the vocal melodies. The instrument mix at times connected with what HAKEN presents, but still this track is a CALIGULA’S HORSE signature. They combine all elements of melody and aggression and present it in a long track like this one.
“Undergrowth” (2:50 min) is an acoustic memorable track, closing this concept album to leave you with a bag of emotions and a final image of “Her” leaving.
“The City has no Empathy” (6:12 min) is an acoustic re-interpretation of a track previously released on the album “Moments from Ephemeral City”, but it perfectly connects to this album and continues the flow of it till the last note.