Alone in the world…
Caligula’s Horse is an obscure, young, indie Australian eclectic progressive metal band. Started as a solo project for Quandary’s guitarist Sam Vallen, when vocalist Jim Grey joined the project, the band grew into a fully functioning project. Their debut album, Moments from Ephemeral City, fuses the melodic progressive rock/metal of the guitarist’s main band Quandary with the heavier metal of his aspirations for a truly eclectic brand of progressive metal. Each track fuses a great melodic diction with heavy bursts of fury with strong diversity running through the entire album. An overall powerhouse of modern progressive metal, and a fantastic and professional album as well, showing this band’s apparent maturity and (hopefully) lasting mark on the genre.
The City Has No Life opens the album, first light and jovial, with some nice guitar work. It soon transitions into a nice guitar solo, with some nice harmonizations between the guitars. Quickly it transcends into the throes of trepidation, throwing in heavier riffs and rhythms to back the accelerating solos. The song takes no prisoners, however, having no trouble in transitioning into a mellow and melodic section. Even from this, the song flies into the heavier spectrum yet again, only to transition again and again, keeping the listener tuned to the stereo as the band throws countless dynamic changes in this apparently highly diverse music. Even from the first track, one can see the alarming skill the band possesses, with effortless transitions and compositional goodies peppering the track the whole way through. Despite being harsh at times in a lyrical sense, it has use with accents on the harsh swears at the most opportune times, accentuating the music at the essential parts. Overall, the song perfectly displays this band’s vision, and outlines the way this band functions very well.
Silence opens with a mellow ambient acoustic part, with another great guitar solo to back it. Throwing in more ambient tricks, the song has a more spacey feel, with a much heavier emphasis on melody than metal in this track. It has a very chill atmosphere, fusing a cool proggy feel with some contrasting melodies. Although not as strong as the first track in a metal sense, it still has a strong creative output and a nice atmosphere.
Singularity has a stronger metallic groove going for it, opening with a great sweeping solo. It is a superb instrumental, showcasing the instrumental prowess of Vallen and co. (I’m not sure if there is a “co.”). Although the themes get a bit repetitive, the great soloing and layering going on during the track really give it a nice spice.
Alone in the World, the massive 11 minuter on the album, is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Opening for once with a crushing djenty riff and some nice groove backing it, the track is the most obviously metal on the album. It sweeps in and out of a killer riff session and a great melodic vocal theme. With another killer guitar solo, the song’s instrumental section is easily the best on the album. Vallen’s unique style, although apparently Petrucci-influenced, has a really great vibe to it and has some great harmonization going on. The mellow breakdown in the middle of the track provides a nice breather to the intensity of the track and makes a nice contrast to the intense metal preceding it. The exiting solo is great, utilizing some really nice sounding sweeps and shreds. Overall, it is a fantastic track, fusing much of the band’s overall style into a nice concise track.
Ephemera is a fantastic little melodic track, with some sublime harmony between the vocal parts and some really great acoustic work. The atmospheres and ambient layers also really add to the track very nicely, giving it a fantastic spacey feel. Another great feature is the symphonic pieces, accenting the music nicely. Overall a shorter, but very pretty, track; it gives the album a nice dynamic.
Equally Flawed, next to Alone in the World, is my favorite track on the album. Opening with a fantastic little piano diddy, it soon transitions into a sweeping metal groove session. Combining some really great melodies to front the great metal riffs and some really nice lyrics, the song has not trouble getting into the upper sonic echelons, utilizing some really amazing arrangements between each instrument for different themes from earlier in the track and countless other really fantastic compositional pieces.
Calliope’s Son, although it opens with most likely the cheesiest opening I’ve ever heard is a great track. Although the first notes set you up for one of the cheesiest track ever, they soon modulate into a really fantastic mode. The song flows into a really great adventurous metal track, reaching heights as the smash hit success Haken did last year (2010), with some really fantastic metallic section and some really great contrasts and dynamics between each instrument. Overall it’s a really fantastic track which really closes the album well.
ALBUM OVERALL: For a debut, this is spectacular. For an album, it’s damn fantastic as well. Blasting out of only a little experience with an indie prog metal band, Sam Vallen and his trusty vocalist Jim Grey have come forth with a highly professional and superbly crafted section of music, with a fresh style and a great vision for the genre. Each track has countless little diverse tidbits that really give the album life, breathe air into a great composition, and set this band off onto the great road to success, and a great cult following of devoted prog listeners. 4 stars.