Caligula's Horse - Charcoal Grace

Kev Rowland

Brisbane-based prog metallers Caligula’s Horse are back with their sixth album, their first as a quartet as they have dispensed with a second guitarist, which means much more work for Sam Vallen, who alongside singer Jim Grey has been steering the band since its formation in 2011. They are again joined by Dale Prinsse (bass) and Josh Griffin (drums) as they move through a form of prog metal which has been heavily influenced by djent. Grey is a wonderful singer, obviously really happy to be at the front of a metal maelstrom, but for me the issue here is the amount of production and lack of real dynamics which creates an album which is technically brilliant yet failing emotionally.

I would be interested to hear what this would sound like if the guys had just plugged in and played with no studio trickery or over the top use of compression and wall of sound, but instead had cut through the blanket with a knife and let us hear just what they are like when all that is removed. There is also a lack of direction and for all the brilliance of the performance and instrumental virtuosity I found I was soon bored and wondering how much more there was to listen to before playing something else. I note that this is getting rave reviews in some quarters, with various people saying how wonderful and majestic this is, but for me the life has been choked out of it and the corpse left on the studio floor for us to examine. There is so much polish placed over the top that it is not possible to really see what this is like without it, and while there is no doubt many will think this is sheer brilliance, I am not one of them.

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