Caligula's Horse
Rise Radiant


4.5
superb

Review

by Scheumke USER (21 Reviews)
May 22nd, 2020 | 46 replies


Release Date: 05/22/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Gravity is growth, we’re not there yet.

Groove has always been an interesting concept to me. Especially within rock and metal there are entire genres dedicated to making the music as energetic and ‘groovy’ as possible, from djent to thrash and from metalcore to nu-metal. All of these genres have a specific element very much in common: both the groove and aggression take precedent over melody and lyricism. For me personally, I get the most enjoyment when bands in these genres incorporate melody and interesting or unconventional songwriting into their music. The melodic hooks are often the most alluring parts of these songs and very much fuel the music as a whole. What I find far more interesting though, is when the opposite happens. When a very melodically driven band decides to have their focal point be groove and aggression. This is when rare magic happens and bands evolve into the unexpected.

Caligula’s Horse have taken this route on their new album Rise Radiant. Five albums into their career, the five-piece from down under have left overwhelming evidence of melodic fortitude. Both Jim Grey’s angelic vocal lines and Sam Vallen’s smooth feel for melodic guitar lines and solos have made Caligula’s Horse one of the most interesting modern prog-rock bands. Where 2017’s In Contact concentrated on its concept and storytelling, Rise Radiant fixates much more on progressive riffs and auditory violence. They are not doing this particularly smoothly either, ramping up as the album goes along. No, they wanted to make a statement to leave us no doubts as to where the new album was going. Thirty seconds into lead single and album opener “The Tempest” and we are treated with one of the tastiest and heaviest riffs of the band's career. Throughout the album, songs like “Slow Violence”, “Oceanrise” and “Valkyrie” continue this trend with (relatively) short and very hard hitting songs that are direct, in your face and instantly memorable.

The beauty of Rise Radiant is that the melodic elements are so ingrained into Caligula’s Horse as a band, that there is never even a chance of aggression taking the upper hand over melody. Jim Grey delivers the best vocal performance of his career, so even when a song hits like a sledgehammer on a squirrel there is always an interesting and often soaring vocal line elevating the grounded instrumentals. To balance the record there are a couple of songs that take the foot off the gas and center around either storytelling and catharsis, like in album highlight “Salt”, or around quiet reflection, such as the short but sweet “Resonate” or the gorgeous and emotional “Autumn”. This juxtaposition of groove and melody makes for a record with pitch perfect cadence and exquisite pacing. The album flies by and the eight songs are over before I feel like I’ve had enough of it.

Is there nothing wrong with Rise Radiant then? Not entirely. Even though there is not a single sub-par song on display here, the highs are just not as high as on In Contact. There is no heavy emotional pay-off like there was in “Graves”, nor a song as uplifting as “Songs for No One”. As a whole, In Contact was a magnificent concept record whereas this 'just' feels like a collection of great songs. For new listeners though, this is the perfect entry point and all the songs themselves make great highlights out of every playlist put on shuffle. I would therefore definitely not quantify Rise Radiant as a step down, but rather as a step sideways which gives the band time to see where they want to go from here.



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user ratings (148)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Robert Garland CONTRIBUTOR (4)
On the trot....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Scheumke
May 22nd 2020


1735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Best prog release of the year so far for me. Feedback is welcome as always!

Digging: Caligula's Horse - Rise Radiant

nightbringer
May 22nd 2020


1228 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Sweet, very excited to listen to this.

areinking
May 22nd 2020


22 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

In my 5-star review of In Contact, I wrote "Ultimately, I believe this album will be the yardstick against which all future C. Horse albums will be measured."



Thank you for proving me right!*



And I totally agree with your assessment here. In Contact was an experiment (remember "Inertia"?). Rise Radiant is a refinement on that ("Slow Violence", enough said). There's not as much novelty to knock me off my feet the way its predecessor did, but I'll be listening to these tracks all year (at least!), anyway. Their music does have a way of growing on me...



* Also, thanks for linking two of my reviews! :D

wildinferno2010
May 22nd 2020


342 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Listening now, this is chuggier than I'd like, but I'm already liking it better than In Contact.



Excellent review, man.

Scheumke
May 22nd 2020


1735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Tnx guys. Just had a first listen of the bonus tracks, damn that don't give up cover is absolutely fantastic.

kalkwiese
May 22nd 2020


5285 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yea, this is fantastic. It's uncanny hiw consistently awesome their output is.



@The Peter Gabriel Cover: So this is where Steven Wilson got his inspiration for Pariah. That cover is beautiful, I should probably listen to the original

Digging: Caligula's Horse - Rise Radiant

Beardog
May 22nd 2020


3519 Comments


Nice, sweet and short review. Hyped for this

wildinferno2010
May 22nd 2020


342 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, the Peter Gabriel cover was nice. Jim Grey is such a good singer.



I might reserve my judgement on this. I'm still not liking the chuggy modern prog direction they've gone in, but I am liking this more than In Contact. Maybe it'll grow on me.



Salt is a sick track.

TheNotrap
Contributing Reviewer
May 22nd 2020


14033 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Nice review.

I'm curious, I've never heard these guys before.

Digging: Ulthar - Providence

SrpskiCekic
May 22nd 2020


46 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Liked it a lot more than their previous offerings. I like this trend.

Mythodea
May 22nd 2020


4713 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This is not on the same level as In Contact, but it's still a damn good album. Still need to ;isten to the covers, though.



If there's anything I don't particularly like here is the ''standard modern prog'' guitar sound. I like the chugging parts, they're actually goovy and don't feel forced. It's got a warmer sound than most other ''chugging'' bands, anyway.

vermillionZ
May 22nd 2020


321 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

About as good as "In Contact" if you ask me, very solid record.

necropig
May 22nd 2020


6052 Comments


Enjoy these guys and Arcane

Digging: Odraza - Rzeczom

Observer
Staff Reviewer
May 22nd 2020


8021 Comments


Oh yeah need to spin

Digging: Echolyn - Echolyn (II)

bludngorevidal
May 22nd 2020


25 Comments


Ty for emphasizing the chuggies everyone, makes me want to check this out more

wildinferno2010
May 22nd 2020


342 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Every listen is slightly better. Liking it more than than In Contact and not as much River's End.



Fuck it, I'll give it a 3.5 and hope I still like it in a week's time.

TundraL5Z
May 22nd 2020


4239 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

like my thoughts on every CHorse record, it's... fine

Scheumke
May 22nd 2020


1735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Huh never would've thought that Tundra, usually we are really close when it comes to our prog tastes.

Drpibb
May 22nd 2020


172 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yea, I like it, but I don't love it. Maybe it will grow on me. Sitting right in the middle of their discog for me but we'll see how long that lasts

Pikazilla
May 22nd 2020


11160 Comments


Best horse



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