CALIGULA'S HORSE
Progressive Metal • Australia

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Caligula's Horse started life as a solo project for Quandary guitarist Sam Vallen to express the heavier side of his musical personality. The project started in early 2010 while Quandary was on a writing hiatus whilst recording their debut album Ready To Fail. Sam began writing music without the context of Quandary's musical framework to guide him; delving into music that was heavier and more guitar centric, with an emphasis on studio production and layering. The music took an intentionally modern form, incorporating influences as diverse as Frost*, Steely Dan, Meshuggah, Devin Townsend and Porcupine Tree.

Enter vocalist Jim Grey from progressive metal band Arcane. Once combined, the bipolarity of Sam's music, and the dynamics and expression of Jim's vocal created a musical invention much greater than it's constituent components; highly melodic music of powerful mood and depth with strong, memorable hooks and intense, technical instrumental performance.

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Thanks to andyman1125 for the addition and colt, tupan, Bosh66 for the updates

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In ContactIn Contact
Inside Out Music 2017
Audio CD$12.43
$13.64 (used)
Tide the Thief & River's EndTide the Thief & River's End
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Inside Out Germany 2017
Audio CD$8.63
$16.40 (used)
Moments From Ephemeral CityMoments From Ephemeral City
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Inside Out Germany 2017
Audio CD$8.63
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BloomBloom
Inside Out Music 2015
Audio CD$12.99
$8.95 (used)
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CALIGULA'S HORSE Discography

CALIGULA'S HORSE albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.44 | 12 ratings
Moments from Ephemeral City
Progressive Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 3.52 | 7 ratings
The Tide, The Thief & River’s End
Progressive Metal 2013
.. Album Cover 4.88 | 3 ratings
Bloom
Progressive Metal 2015
.. Album Cover 4.50 | 2 ratings
In Contact
Progressive Metal 2017

CALIGULA'S HORSE EPs & splits

.. Album Cover 3.38 | 5 ratings
Colossus
Progressive Metal 2011

CALIGULA'S HORSE live albums

CALIGULA'S HORSE demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

CALIGULA'S HORSE re-issues & compilations

CALIGULA'S HORSE singles (1)

.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
Dark Hair Down
Progressive Metal 2013

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CALIGULA'S HORSE Reviews

CALIGULA'S HORSE In Contact

Album · 2017 · Progressive Metal
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adg211288
Australian band Caligula's Horse are a group I've often heard good things said about, but more from the progressive rock crowd than the metal crowd, despite the group's equal association as a progressive metal act. Indeed, when I recently spotted their latest album (their fourth) In Contact (2017) in a music store, it was filed in the Rock & Pop section. This led me to believe that, much like groups such as Enchant, that they were the kind of band who applied a metal edge to an otherwise progressive rock sound. So upon deciding that I'm in the mood to see what progressive rock can offer me in 2017 and choosing Caligula's Horse's In Contact as the first album to check out, I have to say that I've completely misjudged them. Though the band also offer up plenty of softer sections of music/tracks to provide contrasting sounds more often than not they're as heavy and metallic as non-extreme progressive metal gets. What is the point this introduction is making you ask? Well, it just seems to me that there's been less association between the band and metal, when In Contact is an album that fans of progressive metal shouldn't be overlooking.

The vocals by Jim Grey may be exceptionally melodic (I've very much reminded of Haken's Ross Jennings), but the riffs from Sam Vallen and new member Adrian Goleby are heavy and punchy. Sometimes it's in a classic way à la the Dream Theater school, in others it's in a noticeably modern way, even pushing djent at one point. At another there's even a speedy power metal section. The band's instrumentalists certainly don't skimp on the progressive technicalities and intricacies the way some so called modern progressive metal bands do either. Unlike many which get saddled with this overused label, In Contact actually deserves the description. The album is like the perfect fusion of both the progressive rock and heavy metal worlds, offering up the kind of merger that will hold appeal to fans of both crowds without either feeling that it's made a little more for the other.

For the last few years I've found a lot of progressive metal, especially of the more traditional kind like this, to be completely stale, so it shouldn't be understated how quickly this album manages to impress. I'm hooked long before the opening track Dream the Dead is concluded. There's only one track on In Contact that I really don't care for, which is Inertia and the Weapon of the Wall. This one is a spoken word theatrical piece that serves as little more than an interlude. Though convincingly performed, with it running for almost three minutes I'd ready for Caligula's Horse to start up the music that they're so good at before even a third of it is through. It's a disruption to what is otherwise an album that flows together excellently, with the songs quickly asserting their own identities through use of great riffs and equally strong melodic parts. The opening trio of Dream the Dead, Will's Song (Let the Colours Run) and The Hands are the Hardest are especially good, as is the 15:31 long epic closer Graves.

I'm certainly going to have to backtrack and check out Caligula's Horse's earlier albums now, because if they are half as good as In Contact I've been missing out on one of modern progressive metal's best bands. A highlight for their genre in 2017 without a doubt.

CALIGULA'S HORSE The Tide, The Thief & River’s End

Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal
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Cylli Kat
(Originally reviewed @ progarchives.com) I LOVE this album. Staring with the opening line of "Here and now, it ends..." which launches into A Gift To Afterthought all the way through to the concluding song All Is Quiet By The Wall, I love this album through and through. My personal favorites are A Gift To Afterthought, Atlas and Dark Hair Down (which I posted a video of a little while back). Solid from end to end, great guitar, bass and interesting vocal melodies and harmonies, I think this one is a winner! A genuine 5 stars in my opinion. As always, your actual mileage may vary... Grace and peace, Cylli Kat

CALIGULA'S HORSE Bloom

Album · 2015 · Progressive Metal
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Cylli Kat
(Original review posted @ progarchives.com)

Following in the wake of (the exceptional, and should most certainly be included in the collection of any prog-metal fan) "The Tide, The Thief & River's End" (Which remains as one of my all-time top 10 favorites), Caligula's Horse comes back with another wonderfully enjoyable epic: Bloom.

Truth be told; when I first gave the album a run-through, I was only going to give it 3.5 to 4 stars, as I guess I was expecting "The Tide" part II, and how does a band follow up on one of your top top albums ever?!?! - It should be noted that I have been a great admirer of this band since the "Colossus" EP & "Moments From Ephemeral City" Albums, but "The Tide" just knocked me right out of my shoes, so to speak...

This was an absolutely unfair way for me to approach this album, which is (upon subsequent listenings) showing Caligula's Horse doing exactly as they should be: maturing, growing, and expanding their vocabulary. This album is truly BRILLIANT!!!

Everything on this album has its place and it is placed correctly, indeed. The songwriting and production are top-notch, and the playing by all members is absolutely flawless, add to that the vocals of Jim Grey soaring majestically above it all, and you have another Caligula's Horse masterpiece!

This is going to have to go on my 5 star most highly recommended albums to all of you out there in progarchives land that are fans of progressive metal as I certainly consider "Bloom" to be Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music.

As always, your actual mileage may vary... Grace and peace, Cylli Kat

CALIGULA'S HORSE The Tide, The Thief & River’s End

Album · 2013 · Progressive Metal
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Dougie
Well here it is, one of the most eagerly awaited albums for these ears in quite some time. I have been quite vocal in my support of this band since their debut release ‘Moments from Ephemeral City‘ and I guess the big question has been would their follow album compete or better their previous slab of progressive meat. I put it to you that it does indeed compete and then some with this album and is sure to make my top albums of 2013 with Steven Wilson‘s ‘The Raven that Refused to Sing (And Other Stories)’, Tesseract‘s ‘Altered State‘, and Haken‘s ‘The Mountain‘. But to those who haven’t heard the band before, what can you expect to hear? Caligula’s Horse possess the juggernaut riffing of Periphery, the delicate emotional sensibility of Pain of Salvation, the perfectly tasteful and never over or understated rhythm section of Porcupine Tree, all cast to the harmonic ingenuity of Steely Dan. Some of you may be reading this and getting a little excited, it is exciting – it’s downright awesome and executed flawlessly by a cohort of young yet seasoned masters.

“Here and now, it ends”, the album opens with a lulling slapback delay motif which pumps into forceful guitar riffage that will feel familiar and comforting to those returning to the C-Horse, Jim Grey’s vocals are commanding and have an intimidating presence which is glorified by the massive gang vocal sections that sound like an army backing up its fearless leader, somehow I feel as though conceptually this may link in with the album too from behind the scenes videos I have seen that detail the recording process of the record. I must admit, I have not fully delved into the conceptual side of the album yet and have been enjoying it on a musical, production and lyrical level at this point in my journey with the album. I find this to often be the beauty with concept albums in that there is a greater philosophical or even cosmic level to gain from such works of art that gives a record staying power and long term appeal. Certainly this will be the case for “Tide”.

Whilst I feel as though the band has cut some of its fat (the Shrapnel Records übershred), which was something I have always praised the band for in terms of the impressiveness, I think it has actually improved the overall vibe and sincerity of the boys’ output. Don’t get me wrong, you will still hear more 16th note quintuplets than the average bear but I feel it’s done in a way to serve the song and album as a whole.

‘Water’s End’ is harkens back to the eastern flavours and delicate guitar work one will remember from ‘Alone in the World’ and ‘Equally Flawed’ from Moments. It is a beautiful journey through modal harmony and hushed falsettos highlighting his dynamic tenor voice. With a return of the roaring gang vocals and some clever metric modulation, the piece alludes back to some of my favourite guitar work on Moments‘ opening track ‘The City Has No Empathy’ which if I am being honest is still my favourite Caligula’s song. This chanting melody towards the end of the track is particularly encapsulating with all instrumental members (Sam Vallen, Zac Greensill, Geoff Irish and Dave Couper) locked in fiercely creating a busy groove of utmost precision and ferocity.

‘Atlas’ is a beautiful mixture of terraced harmonies and breathtaking music akin to another of my favourite songs that the band released as the eponymous track on the ‘Colossus‘ EP. There is a moment when a really dissonant chord enters and a separate layer comes in to accentuate it. It tickles my musician bone something chronic. I adore this attention to subtlety and detail more than words can ever say and that in itself says something special in that music like this transcends intellectualisation and really captures a feeling which is enough to give that wondrous shiver or goosebump moment that music at its peak is capable of delivering.

‘Into the White’ is one of my favourite tracks and my pick for one of the greatest songs on this album. Beautiful acoustic guitars, graceful melodic bass that Pete Trewavas would be proud of, the beautiful drum ambience, live woodwinds and playful, melodic soloing riding over syncopated djenty rhythms makes this track a true standout.

This album is completely self produced and mixed apart from external mastering and is a complete testament to Sam Vallen and Caligula’s Horse’s abilities. It sounds brilliant with a slightly softened presence giving a vintage edge to a modern sound. The tracks retain a lot of dynamic range with most tracks at DR7 and one at DR8 and DR11 each. For those wanting to read more about this you can check out these two links as I believe it’s important to include in my reviews nowadays as I believe the loudness war has gone on too long, thankfully Caligula’s have not been the worst of victims.

‘Old Cracks in New Earth’ is a largely instrumental track bar the end initial ooh chant and incessant chants of madness/determination that conclude the piece. The track is what you’d expect on this album, the full gamut of dynamics, guitar insanity full of shred and tingling vibratos and feel. It also plays the functional role of melodically reprising key themes of the album unifying the concept and tonality of the album as a whole.

‘Dark Hair Down’ is the track that most would be familiar as it was the lead single of this release with a music video that has already had some serious mileage. It is the most straightforward in terms of structure and dynamics with a hard hitting prowess that pushes the whole track along with momentum. This does not stop it from being one of the most enjoyable. Its verse riffs with extremely tight syncopations and beautiful guitar layers make it a powerhouse of tune. It’s the closest thing to a pop song on the record and I mean that in a complimentary way. The darkened fast Leslie organs augment the murky, visceral tones of the track with graceful splendour.

‘Thief’ is a light ballad and serves as a blissful interlude and pause from the relentless riffing of ‘Dark Hair Down’ which once again shows off the beautiful guitar playing and rich vocal timbre of Mr Grey. It is a gentle track that reminds me of the penultimate track ‘Reflections’ from Above Symmetry’s ‘Ripples’ album and it serves a similar purpose of setting up the final monster.

A medical breakthrough; an organic cure for impotence for sure – this opening groove to ‘All is Quiet by the Wall’ is jizzworthy. This absolute monster intro groove will surely get your chubby pumping or some similar biological reaction for female listeners. Once you’ve adjusted to your self-produced dampness, this track will decimate you. The grooves, the delicateness, the sheer power and command of the band and gang vocals; this is the band unified at its peak and it’s breathtaking. I hope you too will smile when you hear how in your face the guitar solos are mixed – these puppies soar! Perhaps one of my few criticisms of the album is that the beginning of this song sounds better when played in isolation from the album as an entire entity as the level of the previous track feels a little high compared with the start of the track. This is a similar criticism I have of one of my favourite songs by my favourite band Pain of Salvation on the title track of their 2000 album ‘The Perfect Element, Part 1′ so it is likely an idiosyncratic perception of this reviewer rather than what can be seen as a flaw.

All in all this record is one to surely shatter the permutations of inferiority complexes of the Australian music loving population in the fact that we can present work that competes with and often exceeds that of the International market. ‘The Tide, the Thief & River’s End’ is quite simply put – near perfect.

CALIGULA'S HORSE Moments from Ephemeral City

Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal
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Conor Fynes
'Moments From Ephemeral City' - Caligula's Horse (8/10)

Progressive metal has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. Of course, the style never truly halted, but it's only been in the past few years where the fusion of prog and metal has been given a new, modern face to it. Caligula's Horse is a band that aptly defines where I think the sound is at nowadays; a draw of melodies, chunky Meshuggah-like rhythms and general response to modern trends in rock. Suffice to say, this Australian act is able to avoid many of the tired conventions that once had me turn my nose at the 'new' progressive metal coming out. Made even more impressive by the fact that this is more-or-less a one man operation, Caligula's Horse and its debut album will not feel out of place in any progressive metalhead's diet.

Perhaps best known as the guitarist of Quandary, Sam Vallen forged Caligula's Horse as an attempt to get the heavier side of his musical expression out. Although vocals are offered here by the talented Jim Grey, Vallen does everything on 'Moments From Ephemeral City', from the songwriting to recording. Though Caligula's Horse now has a full band to play this music in a live setting, the debut is mostly the product of one man, and had I not known that, I would never have guessed it. Though Caligula's Horse is the debut of what could be called an 'indie' act, it is expertly executed, and the composition is only enhanced by Vallen's modern recording and emotive musicianship. In regards to the style and sound of Caligula's Horse, the fellow prog metal squires in Haken came to mind. There is a healthy acknowledgement of modern prog rock in Caligula's Horse, and the metal element of the band's sound comes out less than I would have expected. Regardless, moments such as the chugging climax to 'The City Has No Empathy' make Vallen's allegiances clear, drawing from the Meshuggah-conceived style now commonly known as 'djent'.

The composition is quite varied, ranging from Dream Theater-like instrumental fury to jazzy breaks and epic prog swells. 'Moments Of Ephemeral City' is graced by the fact that each song manages to stay significant and distinct from one another, although it was somewhat disappointing that there was never the same emotional intensity and flow of songwriting after the excellent opener. Jim Grey's vocal work is a very welcome addition to the sound of this band, giving another dimension to the sound through his smooth, even jazz-like vocal delivery. Through the heavier sections and soft observations, his voice fits the mood perfectly. Caligula's Horse leaves me wanting more of their music, although it would be even better to hear them explore their metal side more, which I felt was a little underdeveloped on the record. Regardless, 'Moments From Ephemeral City' is a great modern prog record, brimming with memorable musical themes and consistent execution. I have high hopes for this band in the future.

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Cylli Kat wrote:
more than 2 years ago
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNIP5LPuLHo
Cylli Kat wrote:
more than 2 years ago
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NRzhYqvSvkw

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