Rise Radiant is by far Caligula’s Horses‘ most explorative package. Following on from their 2017 masterpiece, In Contact, was going to be no easy task and any fan would be remiss in asking these incredible artists if it could be done. So, has it?
Opening the album is “The Tempest” which has that instant pummeling heavy attraction akin to In Contact’s opener “Dream The Dead”. Imagine if you will, you are staring mesmerised by the most stunning stained glass windows depicting images of both glory and loss when those very same stained glass windows burst inward towards you shattering your contemplation. That is the vision I was confronted with when hearing “The Tempest”. It is Caligula’s Horse at their absolute progressive heavy best. The production seems to have lifted on Rise Radiant comparable to their previous albums with a more massive stadium feel (befitting their rapidly expanding worldwide fanbase) yet still remaining with a touch of rawness.
Track two, “Slow Violence”, creeps up on the listener subtly with a small distorted riff, backed by a metronome and accompanied by vocalist Jim Grey; it teases us into trying to guess the direction of the song. It has a smooth vocal fade out and then BANG! “Slow Violence” instantly forms into a tsunami of killer groove. This will definitely get the bodies moving at future CH shows. For reference, imagine BTBAM mated with Periphery which had morphed Katatonia and Opeth — a fantastical “freak child” all written by Devin Townsend! That is the best summation I can offer for the hybrid magnificence of Caligula’s Horse’s “Slow Violence”
I am a massive CH fan and with each new release I’m sure I am not alone when thinking vocalist Jim Grey could not reach a pillar of higher brilliance than on any of Caligula’s previous albums; 2020 is no different! On Rise Radiant vocally Grey has outdone himself on every level. But, that doesn’t stop with him alone, of course, the songwriting collaboration he shares with Sam Vallen pushes CH further beyond their bounds with each release and Rise Radiant and that is solidly backed by Adrian Goleby on guitar and Josh Griffin on drums whilst not forgetting the new addition to the band, Dale Prinsse on bass.
Track three – “Salt” is the first chaptered piece on the album. A seven-minute journey of self-reflection rising above the oppressive demons of having to battle with one’s mental health. In Jim’s own words from our recent interview with him about the new album, “’Salt’ is a form of emotional nudity, laying himself bare for those around to witness. ‘Salt’ narrates the mental health war many of us encounter in our everyday lives and how we choose to overcome them“.
Where “Salt” could be considered confronting, “Resonate” is like a calming angelic hymn that breathes purpose back into our existence. Synth-driven with soothing layered vocals, the ambience of “Resonate” is a slow pulsing ethereal mist that cascades over our souls.
Imagine if you are gently strolling a beach, the salty ocean spray kissing your skin, then “Oceanrise” quickly becomes a monstrous wave with course chaotic ripples painted as musical staves whose sole purpose is to flood the listeners’ entire emotional fortitude. “Oceanrise” is the element that brings all the colours and musical contours on Caligula’s Horse pallet together.
The latest album single release from Rise Radiant is “Valkyrie” where a subtle drum n’ bass/djent riff kicks it off then the obligatory boom of the band greets us with full auditory sense. Appropriate as historically the Valkyrie were of a team of Nazi officers who came up with a plan to assassinate Hitler and destroy the Nazi rule by using Operation Valkyrie as a means to do so. Therein lies daring but beautifully uplifting nature and purpose of Rise Radiant as a whole creation. This song is sure to be a Caligula’s Horse live performance highlight.
As well as being their most ambitious and heavy release Rise Radiant at the same time is Caligula’s Horses’ most reflective and subtle. A dichotomy I am still trying to wrap my head around. Having spoken to Jim regarding this confusing state I find myself in regarding the album. I asked him during our in-depth interview which will be featured in HEAVY Magazine in the coming days, what song he thinks defines Caligula’s Horse. His answer was “The Ascent” — the last, 10:43 min masterpiece, on Rise Radient.
It is their heaviest and most ambitious album by far. Rise Radiant is en-lightened beauty mirroring dark reflection.