Album Review: Caligula’s Horse – The Tide, The Thief & River’s End


Caligula’s Horse has crafted songs that are so alive and so powerful that I get tears in my eyes. Their music makes me do more than just listen, I’m feeling it, I’m living it.  


Genre: Progressive rock/metal with a unique, modern and intelligent sound

Recommended for fans of: Opeth, Pain of Salvation, Porcupine Tree, Karnivool, Dream Theater, TesseracT, concept albums, interesting music


I saw the name Caligula’s Horse on Facebook a while ago, as a recommendation by their country mates, the band Ne Obliviscaris (another awesome band, by the way). Caligula’s Horse was mentioned in the same sentence as “great gigs” and my latest musical addiction Twelve Foot Ninja, so I just had to investigate it further. (For those who can’t wait, there’s a full album stream at the bottom of the page!)

caligulas horse

First impression:  When I heard their album “The Tide, The Thief & River’s End”, it didn’t grab me immediately, but it was clear to me that this was high quality, carefully composed music. I couldn’t shake off the feeling that I had found something special. Little things here and during the eight songs, like the beautiful chorus in the third track “Atlas” and the evil, chugging guitars in “Dark Hair Down” got stuck in my head and made me come back for more. I started loving it. I’m sure you know what it’s like when you’re in love; everything else seems bleak and boring in comparison and you just can’t get enough of the emotional storms your experience with your newly found love so you just have to spend every day with him/her/it.

That’s what “The Tide, The Thief & River’s End” does to me. I can’t get enough of its raw, honest, relentless emotions. When following the story in the music I can feel the anger, the determination, sorrow, freedom, happiness, struggle, tranquility and loneliness. Expressed in the most sensible way possible. It’s rare that music makes me cry, but during all of these songs I get chills all over my body and tears are streaming down my face. They are so alive. They are so damn beautiful!


We stand at the edge and watch the whole world crash around our feet. This is more than each of us! This will be the end of us now! I swear it! Believe me…”  


General Description: What impresses me the most is how Caligula’s Horse has managed to compose unexpected and modern music with plenty of classic rock and progressive metal elements put together into a perfectly coherent collection of tracks. I’ve heard many concept albums before, but never have I experienced one where every single note and mood fits into the bigger picture so naturally. The subtle, carefully placed changes in melody and tone become very powerful once you get to know the songs and the record as a whole. Everything is tastefully built around the many solemn, mellow passages, with the heavier, more aggressive parts providing powerful dynamics and variation. The transitions between the many ever changing moods are seamless and smooth and as a result it creates a flow through all of the songs that is truly captivating.

It’s a self-produced/mixed album and I have to say the production is as good as it can be. Every detail can be heard clearly, it’s loud when it needs to be and quiet when it needs to be and every instrument is just as important as the others.

The lyrical theme is about people trying to escape oppression, standing up for themselves and wanting to be free. There are many references to mythology and history, which I find very interesting. Make sure to check out the lyrics, there’s more to read than the words sung in the songs.



Strong points: The vocals! The singer Jim Grey is amazing. He’s capable of everything from soft whispers and sorrowful, breathtaking clean vocals, like the ones in the Opeth-like “Water’s Edge” and “Thief”, to aggressive shouting and falsettos. Impressive range, dynamic voice and most importantly, Jim Grey is showing true passion while singing. The “gang vocals” you can hear every now and then are also a nice addition.

The guitar work. I had almost started to believe the art of creating soaring guitar solos and riffs with real emotion and power was completely gone, but Zac Greensill and Sam Vallen in Caligula’s Horse proved me wrong over and over again throughout the album. Just check out the massive instrumental track “Old Cracks In New Earth” or “All Is Quiet By The Wall” and you’ll understand what I’m referring to. Overall, there are many beautiful guitar layers and addictive riffs, vibratos and playful shredding.

The rhythm section, my favourite part to follow. I love the way the Geoff Irish (drummer) and Dave Couper (bass player) interact with each other and how the bass is given lots of opportunities to shine. Both are very important parts of the dynamic atmosphere and movement of the story on the album.

Weak points: If you’re able to find some, let me know.

“Hand in hand with our own. This is our home. This is our home. Let our sign say ‘Let them come and meet their end’. Now the world is quiet, this is were we make a stand.” 


Goosebump-moments (on an album that is filled with them):

-The fantastic, dreamy chorus and lovely rhythmic guitars in the background of “Atlas”. One of the best songs this year.

-The incredible bass line in “Water’s Edge”, so smooth! (This song would fit perfectly on Opeth’s “Damnation”.) And when I hear the line “But still content to walk on broken glass beside him, to just let go” I start to cry, it’s sung so beautifully.

-The flute-like sound in the middle of “Into The White” and the guitars at the end. Very powerful ending.

-The verse in “Dark Hair Down” with the organ and guitars backing up the vocals. This song is so much fun to listen to!

-The groove and epic-ness in “All Is Quiet By The Wall”. I love the contrast between the soft, jazzy verse, the huge chorus and the monstrous guitars.


Release Date13 october 2013 on Welkin Records         Origin: Australia

Previous releases: Debut album Moments From Ephemeral City 2011, Colossus EP 2011


About Irmelinis

A friend told me that I was delusional. I almost fell off my unicorn.

Posted on November 4, 2013, in Album Reviews, Exploring New Things, Tales From Bandcamp & Full Album Streams and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. You found a gem there, I think. I was just tired as hell and was just a bit surfing online because I doesn’t felt able to do anything “useful” at all. But these songs really woke me up;-) Reads and sounds very enjoyable. I will pick this up!

    • Nothing makes me happier than when someone reads my review, decides they want to listen and actually end up liking it. I love sharing my favourite bands. Thanks for letting me know what you thought! 😀

  2. Awesome review..You nailed it..I freakin love this album..!!

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