REVIEW: CALIGULA’S HORSE – “In Contact”
For those who complain about modern music being boring there are just no excuses as the internet is overflowing with up and coming bands who are pushing the envelope with their musicianship and song writing abilities.
Brisbane’s progressive metal outfit Caligula’s Horse are one of these bands who are making a name for themselves in Australia and abroad, they like to the take the listener into unique sonic worlds that dance around traditional music genres by establishing new ground. In addition The 5 piece band are landing some excellent gig opportunities supporting progressive metal legends such as Opeth in Australia and overseas as well as Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan and Protest the Hero to name a few and if that wasn’t enough they have also secured festival spots at the “Midsummer Prog Festival” in the Netherlands and the “Be Prog! My Friend Festival” in Spain. Caligula’s Horse is also churning out original material at a consistent rate with their 5th album ‘In Contact’ to be released next month. The Australian metal scene is now more than ever accepting bands with diverse musical tastes and broad influences meaning a band like Caligula’s Horse have the chance to experiment and grow a fan base that have an appetite for music without limitations.
‘In Contact’ makes a bold statement with the opening song “Dream the Dead”;it attacks you with its manic sabretooth tiger like introduction and nicely evolves into an epic prog opus. “Will’s Song (Let the Colours Run)” drifts into a darker aesthetic with a catchy vocal melody from singer Jim Grey,the song also has a staccato rhythm that could very easily match the style of any Djent band. “The Hands Are the Hardest”is a nicely crafted song that at first listen reminds me of an Animal as Leaders composition and Jim Grey’s vocals sound distinctly like Ian Kenny of Karnivool. “Love Conquers All” is the first acoustic ballad from ‘In Contact’with a lovely bed of electronic soundscapes and is the shortest song on the album finishing quite abruptly. “Songs for No One” returns to more ambitious song writing and like the opening track on the album it has a good balance of crunchy guitar licks with gentler passages. “Capuletis”- a more traditional ballad with Shakespeare references touches on the band’s skill to write songs with great emotional depth.
“Fill My Heart”again proves Caligula’s Horse is a band that thrives on songs with great emotion and proves they have a knack for writing dynamic compositions. “Inertia and the Weapon of the Wall” is the most left field moment on ‘In Contact’, it is just under 3 minutes of enraged prose monologue that has quiet moments of dissertation as well as passionate cry outs and presents itself like an open mic night of spoken word poetry. The last words from this epic poem are “spit out of the cannon’s mouth” which in perfect segue is the title to the next song “The Cannon’s Mouth”, an epic composition with hot metal oozing through the guitars but still keeping its prog credentials as the music paints a terrifying but beautiful landscape. The final song on ‘In Contact’is the longest and closes the album with grandeur. “Graves” is a 15 minute sonic journey that takes the listener through blissful guitar work and cliff hanging solos that would make the ideal soundtrack for a battle scene in Lord of the Rings. There’s even a menacing saxophone in the darkest and heaviest section of the composition deftly demonstrating Caligula’s Horse slight jazz fusion tendencies.
When you listen to this album carefully there’s a lot of ideas and bounds of energy that have gone into the making of ‘In Contact’. The band’s efforts have certainly paid off in this solid album; it should give Caligula’s Horse a commercial boost as well an approval of musical authenticity and integrity. Australian prog is still a new paradigm as young music fans are being exposed to the great British prog bands of the 70’s and the European and American metal bands that dared to introduce jazz, folk, classical and even electronic influences in their sound. As the markets for music continue to grow and divide its pie into wider slices, artists in Australia and overseas are taking the step to more universal ideas of how music should sound. Caligula’s Horse is definitely making fresh music and even though some of the songs sound familiar and akin to some of their contemporaries they’re still carrying the torch for progressive music into the future.