Brisbane lads Caligula’s Horse dropped their 3rd album in October, loaded with ambitious progressive rock moments, heavier metal inspired riffs and super impressive vocal work. Then…they hit the road with TesseracT. What a month!
If you don’t know the band prior to hearing ‘Bloom’ (like myself) you’ll likely experience a body of work purely as it is and not in comparison to past material. The only pretence is that the record is a) Aussie b) Proggy and c) Heavy.
So…as with any new release it’s in our nature to listen out for influences and familiarities. In this case it’s: Opeth, Jeff Buckley (yes that’s right!) and Karnivool. The song writing is at times rather lengthy and a bit of a marathon (typical of bands in this genre) however front man Jim Grey’s stunning vocal work takes the chore out of the long arrangements and give’s the material a more accessible angle.
What you’re getting is 8 tracks that range from melancholy, tense and heavy moods with each turn showcasing a different shade of the band. Guitars tones change throughout the songs, drums build and explode with a sense of dynamics and taste. Bass punches to the front tastefully for some really cool feature moments and finds the background just at the right times.
The opening track ‘Bloom’ is a soft start that seamlessly transitions into ‘Marigold’ (also the lead track of the album) as if they were one long piece merely broken up by track numbers. The latter really takes the listener on a journey that rewards you with some great off-time signatures, creative guitar work and busy drums. It’s hard not to smile!
Album highlight though was the third track ‘Firelight’ which may be the biggest sucker punch on ‘Bloom’ where the band takes an almost commercial/pop rock approach at the start of the song bringing in some lighter chimey guitar tones and a more emotional feel that left me thinking ‘wait..what..the..hell..is this?’ Before long the guitars open up and the chorus springs forward and the whole thing feels like it deserves a round of applause for its cunning and tact.
Production is modern and punchy but less polished and ‘perfect’ than other colleagues in the genre (looking at you DLC, Twelve Foot Ninja etc). There were a few moments which involved some double kick and palm muted chugging that sent an awful frequency ‘woofing’ through my speakers which wasn’t too great. Mastering is an art sure..but I was a bit surprised this made it through the process.
Overall I’m pretty impressed and a firm believer that repeated listens will yield new discoveries from this album. It is both accessible and deep enough to retain my interest. Get on it.