Review Summary: The Tide, The Thief & River's End is a superb progressive/alternative rock album
Caligula's Horse – The Tide, The Thief and River's End
The progressive music scene is ever changing, as is the inherent nature of the style. As an ideal, musicians strive to look forward. Progressive music will always be a genre that artists aspire to add to, whether crossing genre styles, technical proficiency, or using phallic sex toys in lieu of drum sticks.
Caligula's Horse utilise all of these in “The Tide, The Thief and River's End”, and they've had two years between the Colossus EP to not only refine their sound, but redefine the band. What started out as a one man band, has now come into fruition as a band of musicians all contributing their musical prowess to this album. As a progressive/alternative rock piece, TTTTARE is not only an abbreviation that sounds like a pirate sound, but it's progressive music cloaked in a blanket of pop vocals, captivating songwriting, and pristine production, with Vallen's idiosyncratic guitar style.
I think a lot of people will find similarities between “Tide” and Caligula's debut “Moments from Ephemeral City”, and the first one that I noticed is the track order and the dynamic of the album, not just in regards to loudness, but also emotionally; relentlessly emotional. Whether it's words of frustration, phrases of profound ecstasy, I feel involved. Often Grey blurs the lines between these two, committing to the most fervently charged performances in the bridge in “Atlas” or the outro of “Into the White”.
For the first time we see writing credits extended to Greensill in “Dark Hair Down” the single and video clip release for the album. If his contribution to this killer track is worthy of credit, his own project “Opus of a Machine” is very anticipated on my behalf. The marriage between Irish and Couper has never been stronger, and I hear so much Opeth influence in this drum and bass relationship, particularly in the latter half of “All is Quiet...”. The stop-start accents in “Into the White” make what feels like the calm before the storm still have so much playful personification in the music, in parts that seem larger than a band we are reminded of the 'realness' these musicians create.
As a listener, we are consistently narrated to by Jim and the backing choir (in particular the end of “Old Cracks...” I tend to imagine as a subtle reference to Halo). Yet what is clearly a concept album, it is still deeper than what is narrated to us. I'll use “Dark Hair Down” as a prime example for Vallen, Greensill and Grey's integration of storyline based lyrics and musical ideas, with a blatant theme involving the power of religion and it's impact on women still to this day. And that is one of the key ideas behind this album, that the story and the entrenched issues can be put in the context of any period of time, whether it be 100 years ago, or 5000 years ago when Earth was [with absolute certainty] created. The point is that to this day we are battling these basic human rights.
For anyone looking for the next wave of progressive/alternative rock music, Caligula's Horse have produced that album. In stores from October 4, The Tide, The Thief and River's End will be available for sale through the usual music purchasing outlets.