Tag Archives: Caligula’s Horse

BlogOfMuchMetal – Metal News – 31 July 2017

Buckle up because this round-up feature some big and exciting news if you share music taste that is in any way similar to me. With that in mind, I’m not going to waste time. Instead, allow me to dive right in.

(Previous update posts can be accessed via links at the bottom of this page.)

Ne Obliviscaris – new album and new song….

20294172_10155509955749898_2381867514676896945_nNe Obliviscaris – Urn
Date of release: 27 October 2017
Label: Season Of Mist

Many column inches have been filled with commentary about Ne Obliviscaris in recent months after the Australians announced a ‘patreon crowd funding campaign’ to essentially fund them to be full-time musicians. The initiative was designed to raise enough money to pay the technical progressive death metal band a wage to allow them the time to write a new record and continue touring. The idea polarised opinion but despite the naysayers, the sextet have seemed to succeed with the venture because a new album has finally been announced.

If you like bombast and over-the-top cinematic sounds blended with intelligent extreme metal, then news of a new Ne Obliviscaris will be very welcome indeed. It certainly is as far as I’m concerned. It has been three years since the immense ‘Citadel’ was released, so I’m chomping at the bit to hear new material. Well, here you go – here’s ‘Intra Venus’ from the forthcoming album and yes, it is a monster.

Caligula’s Horse bring us the track-listing for their new album…

19146029_10154398261857105_6108765129743949462_nCaligula’s Horse – In Contact
Date of release: 15 September 2017
Label: InsideOut Music

Any new information from the Caligula’s Horse camp is worthy of sharing in my opinion, however small. And so, I bring you news that the track listing for the highly anticipated ‘In Contact’ has been released. Check it out below, in all its glory. However, to summarise, we are soon to be treated to ten new compositions, the titles of which can be seen below. ‘Bloom’ remains on frequent rotation at the Mansion Of Much Metal** so all I can say is that if these new compositions come even close to the quality heard on the majestic predecessor, they will be very exciting to hear indeed.

**I don’t really live in a mansion, I might have made that up just because it makes me sound more windswept and interesting.

20248229_10154513775542105_4392782350163514912_o

Redemption are working on a new album…

dsc_5905Redemption – TBC
Date of release: TBC
Label: Metal Blade Records

It seems too good to be true doesn’t it? For fans of quality progressive metal, the name Redemption is a very important one. Fronted by Fates Warning vocalist Ray Alder, masterminded by the extraordinarily talented guitarist/songwriter Nick Van Dyk, and boasting talent in every position, Redemption is without doubt one of the best prog metal bands out there at the moment.

And so, when you consider that the band released the excellent ‘The Art of Loss’ just last year (review here), I can hardly believe I’m reporting that there is plenty of activity afoot in the Redemption camp. Chris Quirarte has posted updates of drum recording ‘for our upcoming new record’, whilst within the last few days, bassist Sean Andrews has confirmed that the tracking of his instrument is complete.

No release date or further information has been released, but the fact that a new album is so far advanced is more than I could have hoped for. In the meantime, in case you need the nudge, allow me to remind you just how good ‘The Art of Loss’ is:

Some more hints are given about one of the most exciting new bands around…

17218771_387176474982109_6918641734903355632_oCyHra – TBC
Date Of Release: October 2017?
Label: Spinefarm Records

The name CyHra has been doing the rounds for a fair while now, and it’s a name that has got me very excited. And I’m sure I’m not the only one because how can certain sections of the heavy metal community not get excited about a band that features none other than Jake E (ex-Amaranthe), the ex-In Flames pairing of bassist Peter Iwers and guitarist Jesper Strömblad, as well as drummer Alexander Landenburg from Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody? Come on, this is one very capable quartet, the stuff of dreams.

We are yet to hear any clips of completed songs, so we can only dream about what CyHra sound like. And, whilst I don’t hate the new direction that In Flames are going in, I am secretly hoping that a little of the early In flames melodeath magic creeps into the compositions. What I can tell you is that the guys have been in front of the cameras with Patric Ullaeus, working on their first video. Rumours abound that the debut album will see the light in or around October 2017, so I’m expecting the video to be released relatively soon. And then we’ll know. For now, all I can bring you is this slightly awkward video where the band introduces itself to an expectant metal community.

My Soliloquy finally edge closer to releasing their new record…

16558419_710300499129700_1372606098_nMy Soliloquy – Engines Of Gravity
Date of release: 14 September 2017
Label: Rare Artist Records

It feels like an age ago that I reviewed ‘Engines Of Gravity’, the new album from Pete Morten who, until recently and amongst many other things, was the rhythm guitarist for Threshold. In every way, ‘Engines Of Gravity’ is a step up for Pete from his debut ‘The Interpreter’. And when you consider how much of the writing, playing and producing is dealt with by Pete alone, this is an impressive feat. Want to read the review again? Click here.

Unusually, the review was written before any confirmed release date had been set. But now, finally, Pete has confirmed that pre-orders will begin from 14th August and the release date is 14th September. So it won’t be too long before one of the stand-out prog metal albums of 2017 will be let loose and then the superlatives can begin to flow from progressive music fans the world over. And with no music released from the new album yet, here’s something from the debut to tide you over for now.

Previous updates:

24 July 2017
22 July 2017
28 March 2017
23 March 2017
11 March 2017
5th March 2017
26th February 2017
13th February 2017
3rd February 2017
30th January 2017
21st January 2017

Essential rock & metal releases still to come in 2017 – Part 1

It’s true what they say – the older you get, the faster time disappears. I mean, it doesn’t seem possible that we are already half-way through 2017 for a start. And yet here I am. With my round-up of the best releases so far in 2017 under my belt, it is time to turn my attention to the future and consider what else is due to cross our paths this year.

If the first half is anything to go by, we’re in for a treat, I can tell you. I don’t remember a year where I’ve given out so many high scores. Unlike last year though, I have yet to bestow a perfect 10 on anyone, although the new Voyager album, ‘Ghost Mile’, Persefone’s ‘Aathma’ and Big Big Train’s ‘Grimspound’ all came deservedly close.

But enough about the past, here’s to the future…

19106010_10154760456619077_388154856530751419_nCradle of Filth
Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay
Release date: 22 September 2017

I was going off the boil regarding Suffolk’s most famous extreme metal export. I was a member of the fan club many years ago in my late teens having worshiped the likes of ‘Dusk…And Her Embrace’ and ‘Cruelty And The Beast’. But after a string of less-than-stellar releases throughout the noughties, I began to re-evaluate. That was until a couple of years ago and the release of ‘Hammer Of The Witches’. Their best since their heyday, it brought me kicking and screaming back into the fold. I now cannot wait for the next chapter in the saga of Dani Filth and co.

This next chapter is entitled ‘Cryptoriana – The Seductiveness of Decay’ and is due for release on 22nd September via Nuclear Blast. Watch out for the first single release very soon too.

19146029_10154398261857105_6108765129743949462_nCaligula’s Horse
In Contact
Release date: 15 September 2017

There are a huge number of excellent bands coming from Australia these days but alongside Vanishing Point and Voyager, Caligula’s Horse are one of the very best. Their previous album, ‘Bloom’ was superb, one of the best releases of 2015. In fact, the more I listen to this record, the better it gets – I should have placed it even higher in my end of year list, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. It is undeniably prog but it is intelligent, modern and full of the kind of swagger and assuredness that only the very best bands display.

The new album is quoted as being “an immense conceptual work”. Enigmatically-entitled ‘In Contact’, it is due for release on 15th September via InsideOut Music, one of the best and most consistent labels out there today. Just listen to the teaser trailer below and tell me this doesn’t sound exciting…

18556032_10155643571650101_6880641999645372966_nLeprous
Malina
Release date: 25 August 2017

It is an undeniable fact that Norwegian band Leprous are now regarded as one of the very best bands in the prog metal genre. They have yet to release anything less than extraordinary in their 16 year-career to date. And they are still young and still learning. But crucially, they appear to remain extremely hungry and out to prove that they deserve to build upon the accolades that they have rightly received so far in their career.

They have released a new track, ‘From The Flame’, from their upcoming new album, entitled ‘Malina’ which is released on August 25th. It remains very recognisable as Leprous but also a little different at the same time. In interview, the band describes the record as a ‘natural-sounding organic album’, but still modern with great songs. If that’s the case, and based upon the first single, count me in.

19420708_1698781136823429_4102190633439104941_nArch Enemy
Will To Power
Release date: 8 September 2017

I’m no longer the biggest Arch Enemy fan, it has to be said. I loved ‘Stigmata’ and the follow-up ‘Burning Bridges’. But that was several years ago and since then, the Swedish extreme metal band with a penchant for over-the-top guitar histrionics have ditched original singer Johan Liiva, replacing him with first Angela Gossow and now Alissa White-Gluz. In fact, there will be a dwindling number of fans even aware that Liiva was ever involved now that the band have re-recorded those aforementioned albums. A bad move in my opinion, but what do I know?

Nevertheless, when a highly-respected fellow journo of long standing makes positive noises about the new material due to see the light of day in the near future, who am I to not take notice? Particularly when the positive noises refer to some brilliantly flamboyant guitar work, for which I am a sucker at the best of times. The door for Arch Enemy has not been slammed shut yet, but this is probably their last chance as far as I’m concerned.

‘Will To Power’ is due to be released on 8th September 2017 on Century Media Records.

Threshold
Legends Of The Shires
Release date: TBC

The Threshold camp has gone a little quiet since the rather shock news surfaced that the UK progressive metal band had parted ways for a second time with Damian Wilson. Aside from news that the band are looking for fans to take part in the shooting of a new video, we’ve not heard anything new about the new material. Until that point, we were fully expecting the new album, ‘Legends of the Shires’ to surface in the latter stages of 2017. I still think we will have the double record, it’s just a matter of exactly when.

It is also a matter of who will be the vocalist on the record, as I understand that the album had been recorded with Wilson behind the mic. I suspect it’ll be Morgan, but nothing as far as I’m aware has been confirmed. You wait, as soon as I publish this post, an announcement will be made. An announcement is also still to be made regarding the guitar position made vacant by the recently departed Pete Morten. Interesting times ahead for one of my favourite prog bands.

Anticipated music in 2017 – an update – 3 Feb

Welcome to my latest post in what is becoming a new regular feature on the blog of Much Metal. I have always brought you a series of posts where I look ahead at the albums I’m most looking forward to throughout the coming year (Most anticipated releases of 2017). However, as is often the way, as the weeks pass, more news comes to light, updates are provided by bands and I inevitably get excited by things that I hadn’t been aware of previously.

Well, this regular update is my way of keeping you abreast of these new developments, whether they relate to albums I’ve already mentioned or to completely new discoveries.

I never like to just re-hash news that can be viewed on other sites, so this is my way of bringing you something unique and original in the process. And I’ll keep going unless you tell me to stop. You’ve been warned!

Obituary – Obituary
Release date: 17 March 2017 (Relapse)

15965455_10154022138905957_2782137546902839523_nI can’t help it. Ever since I heard ‘World Demise’ on cassette tape, I have had a soft spot for Obituary. I love the extremity and also, without being disingenuous to the band, the brutal simplicity of the music. This is no frills death metal where the groove and the riffs take centre stage to bludgeon the listener from start to finish. I also really like John Tardy’s vocals which sound twisted and tortured, as if he is wretching as he sings.

New track, ‘Turned To Stone’ is another behemoth of a death metal track that delivers everything I like and hope for from an Obituary song. It chugs and grooves relentlessly at a bludgeoning mid-tempo, but gathers pace a little towards the end as a solo or two enters the fray. Marvellous. I’m really interested to hear the band’s 10th album now.

Seventh Wonder – TBC
Release date: TBC

A new Seventh Wonder album has to be one of my most hotly anticipated releases of 2017. They never fall short of being mesmerizingly brilliant. From the complex and dextrous instrumentalism to the more melodic delivery of the astonishing vocalist Tommy Karevik, this is a band that has it all.

There is still no official information about the album in terms of release date or title, but here is a bit of bass from the recording sessions that was released recently to get your juices flowing. I hope you like it as much as I do.

Wolfheart – Tyhjyys
Release Date: 3 March 2017

15894580_700712443428988_7115424794040486274_nWolfheart are a band that I have discovered during one of my regular evenings spent trawling the internet for new music that I both enjoy and write about on the Blog of Much Metal. It is a service I perform with gusto and has allowed me to bring you another find that I’m excited about.

I know I’m late to the party but check out ‘The Flood’, a track taken from the upcoming album ‘Tyhjyys’ and tell me this isn’t completely superb. Mind you given that Wolfheart are spearheaded by guitarist/vocalist Tuomas Saukkonen, he of the now defunct Before The Dawn, Black Sun Aeon and Dawn of Solace, it is hardly surprising that it sends shivers down my spine. The blend of melody and bleak heaviness is intoxicating.

Caligula’s Horse & Opus Of A Machine

Recent news from the Caligula’s Horse camp that guitarist Zac Greensill had parted ways with the band came initially to me as a disappointing update. I love Caligula’s Horse and still count ‘Bloom’ as one of my favourite modern prog albums of recent years.

However, reading on, I discovered that Zac was leaving to focus 100% on his own band, Opus of a Machine, stating that new material would therefore be on the way soon. Naturally, I headed off to check out Opus of a Machine and what I have heard has meant this I am now very excited because not only will Caligula’s Horse continue, I now have another band to get my teeth stuck into and get my support behind.

Head over to the Opus of a Machine bandcamp page to check out their debut album from 2014 and see what I am babbling on about. A new album in 2017 would be brilliant, I have no doubt.

https://opusofamachine.bandcamp.com/

Helion Prime – Helion Prime
Release date: 24 February 2017

CD BookletHere is a band about which I knew nothing as recently as a week ago. I didn’t know that they existed and I had even less of an idea that they had released a debut album in 2016. Recently signed to those good people at AFM, a re-release of the debut self-titled album is just around the corner, and now I know about this US band, it is my duty to spread the word to those who are interested.

The following video gives you a great insight into what this self proclaimed science-based power metal band are all about. Sharp riffing, powerhouse rhythms, infectious choruses and a lead vocalist in Kayla Dixon that is one of the most glorious front women I’ve heard – I love her tone and delivery which means she sounds very melodious but also full of attitude.

Expect a review on the blog of much metal in the near future.

Previous updates:

30th January 2017
21st January 2017

My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 6

Welcome to what I confidently predict will be the final part in this ever-expanding series where I look at those albums which will, should or might be released during 2017. I’ve already offered 25 releases that I’d be delighted to hear but the music keeps on coming to prove that heavy music is very much alive and well.

If you’ve missed the previous instalments of this series, here are the links:

My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 1
My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 2
My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 3
My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 4
My most anticipated releases of 2017 – Part 5

And now onto the main event…

Caligula’s Horse – TBC
Release date: TBC

This is a band that completely blew me away with their incredible album ‘Bloom’ a couple of years ago. It was a sensational slab of modern progressive metal with one foot firmly embedded in the classic era of prog. It was just amazing.

Needless to say that I can’t wait for a new album from the talented Australians. The bad news is that a 2017 follow-up has yet to be confirmed. The good news is that they have already road-tested new material and have received a huge response. The fact that the material in question is a 16 minute epic only helps to heighten my excitement further. I genuinely cannot wait for this album to come to fruition.

Distorted Harmony – TBC
Release date: TBC

Whilst we are on the subject of being blown away by music, you can add Distorted Harmony to the list. Their ‘Chain Reaction’ album that was released in 2014 was light years ahead of their previous offerings. Gone were the clear Dream Theater comparisons and in came a much more exciting, urgent, magical style of progressive metal. Genuinely heavy and genuinely progressive, it was also extremely subtle and immensely beautiful. Strong melodies, groove, light and shade; this album was a true journey and one that I found myself wanting to take on a frighteningly frequent basis. I still do if truth be told. It goes without saying therefore that I literally can’t wait for a follow-up. Will it arrive in 2017? Well, it isn’t official yet but new material has been written. Fingers crossed…

My Dying Bride – TBC
Release date: TBC

A reason to be gloomy for those, like me, who enjoy such things would definitely be a new My Dying Bride album in 2017. In the latter stages of 2016, the band confirmed that they would concentrate on writing for a new album, although a ballpark release date wasn’t mentioned. So it might be 2017 or, equally likely, 2018. Being a firm favourite with me though, I couldn’t let the opportunity pass by without mentioning one of the finest purveyors or solemn and miserable doom metal on the planet. Watch this space…

Immortal – TBC
Release date: TBC

I can confirm that a new album from Immortal will definitely be released in 2017, at least that’s the case according to the band on their official website. I’ve never been the biggest fan of Immortal but there’s no denying that over the years they have produced some suitably grim and powerful music to counteract their preposterously over-the-top image.

It will be even more interesting this time around because it will be the first album since the departure of Abbath, he of the million memes. Now that Immortal is just Demonaz and Horgh, I am sure that I won’t be the only one who is intrigued to find out how Immortal 2017 sounds. Recording is due to take place very soon in the Abyss Studio with Peter Tagtgren, so we won’t have too much longer to wait to find out.

Shadow Gallery – TBC
Release date: TBC

What I wouldn’t give for a new Shadow Gallery record. This progressive metal band is one of my all-time favourite bands and everything they have released has the word ‘masterful’ rightly attached to it. Never the most prolific of bands in the first place, the death of lead vocalist Mike Baker and the recent personal tribulations of Gary Wehrkamp mean that they have slowed their output ever further. This is the most unlikely release in the entire series, but I live in eternal hope.

Pagan’s Mind – TBC
Release date: TBC

According to a post from the band themselves on New Years Eve, new music from Norwegian melodic prog metal band Pagan’s Mind is a possibility for 2017. I quote: ‘We know we have said this a million times already but we genuinely hope to have new music for you in 2017, but please know we can’t give any guarantees’. It is non-committal but it is a step in the right direction and means that we could hear some new music from one of the best exponents of melodic progressive-tinged heavy metal. I’ve loved everything from ‘Celestial Entrance’ and whilst they have toned down their progressive edge over the years, their music remains of the very highest quality.

Pallbearer – Heartless
Release date: 24 March 2017

I wasn’t going to mention this band in this list to begin with. I really did enjoy their previous album ‘Foundations of Burden’, which was a big surprise to me given that I’m not the greatest doom fan. However, whilst undertaking my research for this series, I came upon a quote about the upcoming album, suggesting it ‘weaves together the spacious exploratory elements of classic prog, the raw anthemics of 90’s alt-rock, and stretches of black-lit proto-metal’. Well blimey, I wasn’t necessarily expecting a description like this and I consider my interest to be thoroughly piqued.

It may be a huge let-down or it might, more likely, be a huge success that sees the Pallbearer name become ever more successful. Either way, I’m up for hearing a slice of this.

Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 6

Welcome to Day 25 of my ‘Album Of The Year 2015’ Top 30 countdown.

No long intro today, just a thanks for sticking with me through this mammoth undertaking and for any new readers, a reminder to check out my picks from 30 down to 7 via the links at the bottom of this post.

And with that, I give you my next choice…

Number 6

caligulas horse coverCaligula’s Horse
‘Bloom’
InsideOut Music

it might seem like a strange approach but I’m going to begin my overview of my sixth favourite album of 2015 with a minor gripe; I wish it was longer! ‘Bloom’ is comprised of eight tracks with a running time of around 45 minutes. For a progressive record, this seems just a little on the short side. Some might argue that it makes a refreshing change not to have to put aside a whole afternoon to listen to a prog record but to begin with, I felt just a little disappointed. Even now, I still wish it was a little longer.

Rather than view this as a negative though, I instead choose to look upon this gripe as a positive; if the music wasn’t so damn superb, the length of the album wouldn’t even be a consideration. As it is, so mesmerised am I by the compositions, that I just want them to go on for as long as humanly possible. Additionally, the relatively short running time just encourages more frequent repeat listens, something I can attest to wholeheartedly.

Credit: Unknown

Credit: Unknown

My full in-depth review of ‘Bloom’ can be read here, should you be interested. However, to quote a small passage from it: ‘‘Bloom’ opens with the title track where sounds of an acoustic guitar and nothing else seep into the senses for a few seconds before Jim Grey joins in with his beautiful voice. The melody is simple and effective and the whole thing sounds crystal clear and very rich and vibrant. On the very first listen, I looked across at my other half and, with headphones on, I mouthed ‘oh, this is good’, grinning broadly as I did so. A lovely emotive lead guitar joins the party before the track explodes at the half-way mark. Pummelled by something initially approaching a wall of sound, the melodic intent takes over and in a flash this three-minute opener concludes.’

What follows within the subsequent seven tracks is equally as impressive and fully engaging. A more detailed breakdown of each track can be read within my aforementioned album review so I won’t bore you with something quite so detailed here. Instead, what I want to focus on is the way in which ‘Bloom’ makes me feel when I listen to it.

Each composition packs a punch in terms of the sheer variety and the number of different musical ideas that are explored. This is properly progressive music but it is executed in a very sophisticated way so that the songs come across as just that: songs. Despite all the complexity and the intensity that Caligula’s Horse pack into this album, I come away from each spin with a different favourite track and cannot help but get fully immersed into the music. The combination of very clever and catchy melodies alongside an impressive lyrical depth and a perfect execution is a powerful combination that floors me every time. I genuinely get immersed into ‘Bloom’ every time I hear it and I find it impossible to just dip in and out. I have to listen to the entire record.

Furthermore, I find myself fully committing to the music. Whether it’s a chugging riff built around an intriguing time signature, a moment of quiet introspective contemplation, an emotional lead vocal line or any number of other things, ‘Bloom’ grabs me, beguiles me, challenges me and wraps me within a warm musical embrace from which it is hard to escape, not that I ever really want to if I’m honest.

To conclude, I return to my review: ‘How on Earth do I sum up an album that’s a good as ‘Bloom’ from Caligula’s Horse is? The answer is to not be fancy with the words and be honest. I absolutely adore this record and I consider ‘Bloom’ to be a modern progressive rock/metal behemoth that will leave a hugely positive impression on anyone who likes quality music that is as beautiful as it is subtle and ambitious.’

Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 7
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 8
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 9
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 10
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 11
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 12
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 13
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 14
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 15
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 16
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 17
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 18
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 19
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 20
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 21
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 22
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 23
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 24
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 25
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 26
Album Of The Year 2015 – Number 27
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 28
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 29
Album of the Year 2015 – Number 30

And from previous years:

Album of the Year 2014
Album of the Year 2013
Album of the Year 2012

Caligula’s Horse – Bloom – Album Review

caligulas horse cover

Artist: Caligula’s Horse

Album Title: Bloom

Label: InsideOut Music

Year Of Release: 2015

When I recently wrote about the strength of the Australian heavy metal scene, one of the bands that I used to illustrate my point was Caligula’s Horse. The progressive rock/metal band from Brisbane had not long before released the magnificent ‘The Tide, The Thief & River’s End’ and, even though it was only the band’s second album since forming in 2011, it was impressive enough to mean that I had no choice but to include them in an already strong list of bands from the land ‘down under’.

Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to be impressed with ‘The Tide, The Thief & River’s End’ because it received quite a bit of well-deserved critical acclaim and resulted in the quintet inking a deal with one of my all-time favourite record labels, InsideOut. And, based on the output on the simply-titled third album, ‘Bloom’, InsideOut have been rewarded and rewarded handsomely. Allow me to spend the rest of this review explaining why.

To those who already enjoy everything that the progressive world throws at us, vocalist Jim Grey will been familiar with the voice at the head of Caligula’s Horse as he also fronts the equally impressive Arcane who have made waves this very year with their double album ‘Known/Learned’. Having listened to both and ‘Bloom’ in particular repeatedly for several days now, I can say that this release is every bit as impressive. It’s quite different of course, but excellent in its own right.

The first thing to mention about ‘Bloom’ concerns its length. Featuring eight tracks and with an overall playing time of around 45 minutes, I have a very real feeling that it could have been a little longer, particularly for a prog record. Am I saying that I feel short-changed? No, I’m not, for reasons that will become clear later. Do I feel ever so slightly disappointed by the apparent brevity? A little, yes. But, turn this on its head and this initial gripe becomes a positive in the band’s favour. If I’m wishing the album was longer, it must be enjoyable and full of great music, right? Abso-flippin’-lutely.

Credit: unknown

Credit: unknown

‘Bloom’ opens with the title track where sounds of an acoustic guitar and nothing else seep into the senses for a few seconds before Jim Grey joins in with his beautiful voice. The melody is simple and effective and the whole thing sounds crystal clear and very rich and vibrant. On the very first listen, I looked across at my other half and, with headphones on, I mouthed ‘oh, this is good’, grinning broadly as I did so. A lovely emotive lead guitar joins the party before the track explodes at the half-way mark. Pummelled by something initially approaching a wall of sound, the melodic intent takes over and in a flash this three-minute opener concludes, seguing seamlessly into ‘Marigold’. There are echoes of other alternative, progressive acts such as Karnivool etc, but ultimately, these are just that; echoes and fleeting similarities within the Caligula’s Horse framework.

‘Marigold’ is one of my favourite tracks on the record. It flits majestically between soft, calming melodies to powerful and heavy riffing courtesy of founder Sam Vallen and Zac Greensill that’s stop-start in its approach, thus creating great headbanging fodder. When the track is at its quietest, the richness of the instrumentation is something to behold, enhancing the subtle, beguiling melodies to great effect. And the chorus? It’s a barnstormer that takes a few spins to appreciate fully but once lodged in your head, it’s beautifully infectious. There’s time for a cracking lead guitar solo before the composition is done, as well as some intense work from the rhythm section of Dave Couper’s bass and drummer Jeff Irish.

Next up is another firm favourite, ‘Firelight’. As with the two preceding tracks, it packs a myriad of different musical ideas into a composition that lasts under five minutes but does it in such a way that it’s not immediately obvious how much is actually contained within it. It leads to an initial feeling that the music is not actually that ‘progressive’ in the classic term of the word but that merely demonstrates how clever and subtle the compositions really are. There’s a demonstrable Kings Of Leon vibe to much of ‘Firelight’ but if I might be a little cheeky, it sounds like Kings Of Leon could sound if they were as good as Caligula’s Horse. It opens with some lovely layered vocals, whilst the central chorus is utterly compelling and one of the most immediate things I’ve heard during 2015, enhanced by a powerful and passionate performance from Grey behind the mic.

The longest track on the record follows in the form of ‘Dragonfly’. Again, it starts relatively quietly but doesn’t take long before the instrumentation is in full swing. The result is another rich, full-sounding and fully satisfying chorus. The song takes many twists and turns throughout its nine minute length including experimentation with properly heavy djent-esque riffing, acoustic breakdowns, Opeth or Katatonia-like mournful guitar flourishes that sit lower in the mix but catch my ear instantly. The instrumental breakdown at the half-way mark is classic prog and the lead guitar flourish that follows is a delight, before dropping away to allow just the piano to continue with the central melody. This song has echoes of Haken to it amongst others but remains totally Caligula’s Horse, closing in a suitably epic and strangely uplifting fashion where the keys play an important role in creating the rousing atmosphere.

‘Rust’ is arguably the most intense and angry-sounding track on the record with an angry chorus lyric that is accentuated by an almost snarling Grey, who elsewhere delivers some of his most melodious and captivating work. In the lead-up to the chorus, which again is hook-laden and memorable, the intensity is increased cleverly and an urgency builds palpably. The drumming is some of the most furious on the record and the guitars return to a djent-inspired heaviness, albeit delivering a clever and complex riff.

‘Turntail’ opens in almost pop-like fashion thanks to an upbeat melody that is then soon joined by more crunchy, choppy riffs that scratch the itch of those wanting their prog on the heavier end of the spectrum. In no way can Caligula’s Horse be referred to as extreme metal, their output is satisfyingly chunky and robust enough to please the metalheads amongst us. The song then opens just after the mid-point expansively before returning to the opening and highly-addictive pop-like chorus.

Credit: Unknown

Credit: Unknown

‘Daughter Of The Mountain’ tops the seven-minute mark and again packs a lot of music in. The bass guitar catches my ear, as it has done throughout as it creates a really positive vibrancy and richness to the whole track, but principally when the bulk of the instruments drop away during the quieter, more introspective moments. In tandem with either a soft acoustic guitar or piano, the bass work is simple and compelling. I may sound like I’m repeating myself, but the chorus is a killer, acting as a seductive earworm to counterpoint the more complex and challenging structures and musical ideas that surround it brilliantly.

‘Bloom’ is then concluded via ‘Undergrowth’, an acoustic guitar and vocal number that’s simple, effective and allows a final chance for Grey to stake his claim as one of the most striking vocalists in a genre already awash with great singers.

How on Earth do I sum up an album that’s a good as ‘Bloom’ from Caligula’s Horse is? The answer is to not be fancy with the words and be honest. I absolutely adore this record and I consider ‘Bloom’ to be a modern progressive rock/metal behemoth that will leave a hugely positive impression on anyone who likes quality music that is as beautiful as it is subtle and ambitious.

The Score Of Much Metal: 9.5

If you’ve enjoyed this review, check out my others right here:

Amorphis – Under The Red Cloud
Spock’s Beard – The Oblivion Particle
Agent Fresco – Destrier
Cattle Decapitation – The Anthropocene Extinction
Between The Buried And Me – Coma Ecliptic
Cradle Of Filth – Hammer Of The Witches
Disarmonia Mundi – Cold Inferno
District 97 – In Vaults
Progoctopus – Transcendence
Big Big Train – Wassail
NightMare World – In The Fullness Of Time
Helloween – My God-Given Right
Triaxis – Zero Hour
Isurus – Logocharya
Arcturus – Arcturian
Kamelot – Haven
Native Construct – Quiet World
Sigh – Graveward
Pantommind – Searching For Eternity
Subterranean Masquerade – The Great Bazaar
Klone – Here Comes The Sun
The Gentle Storm – The Diary
Melechesh – Enki
Enslaved – In Times
Keep Of Kalessin – Epistemology
Lonely Robot – Please Come Home
The Neal Morse Band – The Grand Experiment
Zero Stroke – As The Colours Seep
AudioPlastik – In The Head Of A Maniac
Revolution Saints – Revolution Saints
Mors Principium Est – Dawn of The 5th Era
Arcade Messiah – Arcade Messiah
Triosphere – The Heart Of The Matter
Neonfly – Strangers In Paradise
Knight Area – Hyperdrive
Haken – Restoration
James LaBrie – Impermanent Resonance
Mercenary – Through Our Darkest Days
A.C.T. – Circus Pandemonium
Xerath – III
Big Big Train – English Electric (Part 1)
Thought Chamber – Psykerion
Marcus Jidell – Pictures From A Time Traveller
H.E.A.T – Tearing Down The Walls
Vanden Plas – Chronicles Of The Immortals: Netherworld