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Rise Radiant


Artist: Caligula's Horse
Label: InsideOut Music
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 22 May 2020

InsideOut Records releases Rise Radiant, from Progressive Rock/Alternative Rock band Caligula’s Horse (Incitatus, for those in the know). This follows the very well received In Contact from 2017. The combo was formed in 2011 by vocalist Jim Grey and lead guitarist Sam Vallen, and also features Adrian Goleby on guitar, Dale Prinsse on bass and vocals, and Josh Griffin on drums. The group hails from Brisbane, Queensland in Australia. The single 'Oceanrise' has been lifted from the album. Rise Radiant is available as a Limited Edition CD Digipak, Gatefold 2 x LP + CD Vinyl, and for Digital Download. All formats contain the two bonus tracks...

'The Tempest' has a nice guitar riff and drum beat, with typical Progressive Rock timing structure. Keyboard and vocals are quiet and husky during the verses and rise in pitch and volume for the chorus. Some Prog is meandering and self-important to the point of pretentiousness, but this one sticks to a manageable song format. 'Slow Violence' stamps down the declaration that this is well and truly Prog with no experimental crossovers. These are not exactly sing-along songs, but they’re made more enjoyable by their restraint and their remit to remain within the confines of tracks open and accessible to the casual listener, rather than expecting people to invest in a make-it-up-as-you-go-along mentality. Tinkling Piano introduces 'Salt'. It’s a fairly heavy full-band sound, before piano and soft vocals take over. The intro puts in place the structure of tentative vocals for the verses and heavy sound for the chorus. As this is a longer song, there is time for a middle-8 of sorts which is almost totally different to what has come before. There’s an unusual guitar solo, which is a little different, too.

Don’t waste your time with 'Resonate', it’s a wet soul-like ballad with no substance, and probably not much interest for a Rock fan of any sort. The single, 'Oceanrise', incorporates vocals which are a little light for me. The band format is pretty good though, driven by the ever-changing drum pattern. Very much like 1990s Prog Metal. 'Valkyrie' has a nice introductory riff and melody, but again the vocal stance and sound lets it down somewhat – stopping the heaviness having much effect. 'Autumn' is another dull track. Again, the pattern of too light a beginning can’t be rescued by a much too short guitar solo of substance. We finish with 'The Ascent' (no, not the Ultravox one from Rage in Eden). This closer has some life breathed into it. There are clever changes of stop-start melody. But why does it have to lose its fire and slow almost to a stop for the vocals. Nevertheless, this is the best offering after 'The Tempest', and 'Salt'.

I have mixed feelings about this album and Caligula’s Horse as a whole. If you love Prog Rock in all its shapes and forms you will undoubtedly lap this up. What the band is trying to achieve sometimes reminds me of the British band Ten. Although Ten has enjoyed a substantial following over the years, I still have a problem with many of their releases. I think I was spoilt by their superb rocking masterpiece 'Spellbound' (check it out). I think this may have been my problem here: I’ve been listening while knowing they can do better. Stick to the better heavier vibe, and ditch the snowflake vocals for something more substantial. Just a thought...


Ty Power

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