Caligula's Horse is a relative new-comer to the progressive music scene, and as I have said many times, there is always room on the prog bus for more talent. Caligula's Horse has a sound that comes from many directions...perhaps because they admit to influences ranging from The Beatles to Rage Against The Machine to Frank Zappa; quite an eclectic mix to say the least. Listening to Caligula's Horse this week I felt the urge to reach for my old Argent and Quicksilver Messenger Service albums. There are definite hints of Dream Theater and Atomic Rooster in their repertoire as well. Caligula's Horse runs the gambit as far as influences yet they are able to channel all that energy and emotion into a distinctive sound all their own.
I decided to start the musical buffet with the band's debut album, "Moments From Ephemeral City." My opening selection is a tune called "The City Has No Empathy (Your Sentimental Lie)." The first 25 seconds are a calm guitar intro with a smooth prog feel--and then BAM! a full-on prog hammer aimed at your ears. The fluidity of the song is very impressive, like maple syrup flowing ever so smoothly down the side of a stack of pancakes. Caligula's Horse may be new to the progressive scene, but they are not "deer-in-the-headlights" novices with no direction. The vocals are smooth and hard-hitting, and the drums never let up yet do not overpower everything else going on in the song. Very positive first impression...
Serving number two is also from "Moments," a little heavier hitting song called "Calliope's Son (Don't Ever Look Back)." The opening takes me right to King Crimson's "Lizard" release...but only for a short while. The speed with which the song builds momentum and the strength of its punch is remarkable. Caligula's Horse hits you with an incredible dose of guitars, keyboards, and drums that work together in alternating rounds of hard-hitting rock and subtle orchestral interludes like an emotional tete-a-tete. True to the artwork on its album cover, Caligula's Horse is bright, loud, and tremendously clever. Each time I listen to the music I am hit with something new that catches my attention; the third time through I am fixated on the time and tempo changes. Caligula's Horse plays with an intensity that is refreshing, as if the rules musicians are expected to follow never existed. However; the one rule Caligula's Horse does seem to adhere to is "play hard, play fast, and fill every minute with passion." Of course it helps to have the chops to back it up--and Caligula's Horse has ability to spare.
Liner Notes...Caligula's Horse was started in 2011 by Sam Vallen and Jim Grey. Originating in Brisbane, Australia, Caligula's Horse is "...a modern and individual approach to music that channels the raw honesty of classic rock with the skill of progressive metal into a voice at once energetic, grand, and forthright..." OK; I was about to write that on my own, but the bio on the band's website said it much more poetically. As is often the path of a band laden with vision, energy, and genius right out of the gate, Caligula's Horse attracted the interest of like-minded others and soon a full-fledged progressive band was thrust on the world. The current line-up is Jim Grey lead vocals, Zac Greensill guitar and vocals, Dave Couper bass and vocals, Geoff Irish drums, and Sam Vallen guitars and everything else...I suspect there is a lot in that "box of everything else."
My final selection for this post is a song called "Dark Hair Down." A little edgier than my previous selections, this song drips of Steve Vai and Opeth, although I also detect hints of Rush and Tool sprinkled throughout. The song bangs on your head a bit when it opens, but the guitars come rushing in to set the tone. A strong definite bass line emphasized with drums keeps the sound just rough enough for the vocals to smooth it all out.
Caligula's Horse is not a band that will challenge you intellectually--because (I believe) they choose not to. Listening to the music all week I was more of the impression Caligula's Horse prefers to poke the inner child in the listener; challenging you emotionally. Remember the feeling when you had your first crush? Nothing else in the world mattered--all you knew was it felt great and you never wanted it to end. Listening to Caligula's Horse may not be as heart string pulling as first love, but you get the idea...Caligula's Horse is more about the art of building a great sandwich rather than the science of a healthy lunch.
The cut below is called "A Gift To Afterthought." The opening is reminiscent of latter Pink Floyd--until Liquid Tension Experiment leaps through the speakers to grab your attention. Caligula's Horse is a literal plethora of the magic rock 'n' roll used to seduce me as a kid and then keep me coming back for more years later...you can learn more about Caligula's Horse at http://caligulashorse.com/
Well fellow progheads, the calendar pages appear to be flying off the wall. It feels more like seven hours since my last post--not seven days. However; I believe you will agree that Caligula's Horse is a great start to February and the perfect energy boost keep the prog concert closet going full tilt. The new year has kept me busy hunting for and listening to great new progressive bands all over the world; lucky for me the closet is deep and I don't need a passport...until next week...