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Caligula's Horse

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Caligula's Horse Moments from Ephemeral City album cover
3.90 | 167 ratings | 6 reviews | 23% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The City Has No Empathy (Your Sentimental Lie) (6:10)
2. Silence (7:13)
3. Singularity (3:33)
4. Alone in the World (11:04)
5. Ephemera (3:19)
6. Equally Flawed (6:09)
7. Calliope's Son (Don't Ever Look Back) (5:09)
8. Colossus (5:40) *
9. Vanishing Rites (Tread Softly Little One) (5:12) *

Total Time 53:29

* Bonus tracks taken from the "Colossus" EP

Line-up / Musicians

- Jim Grey / lead vocals
- Sam Vallen / guitar, composer, production & mixing
- Zac Greensill / guitar
- Dave Couper / bass
- Geoff Irish / drums

Releases information

Artwork: Lemi Fleming

CD self-released (2011, Australia)
CD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMSECD 483 (2017, Europe)

Thanks to andyman1125 for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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CALIGULA'S HORSE Moments from Ephemeral City ratings distribution

(167 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(23%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (31%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

CALIGULA'S HORSE Moments from Ephemeral City reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Alone in the world...

Caligula's Horse is an obscure, young, indie Australian eclectic progressive metal band. Started as a solo project for Quandary's guitarist Sam Vallen, when vocalist Jim Grey joined the project, the band grew into a fully functioning project. Their debut album, Moments from Ephemeral City, fuses the melodic progressive rock/metal of the guitarist's main band Quandary with the heavier metal of his aspirations for a truly eclectic brand of progressive metal. Each track fuses a great melodic diction with heavy bursts of fury with strong diversity running through the entire album. An overall powerhouse of modern progressive metal, and a fantastic and professional album as well, showing this band's apparent maturity and (hopefully) lasting mark on the genre.

The City Has No Life opens the album, first light and jovial, with some nice guitar work. It soon transitions into a nice guitar solo, with some nice harmonizations between the guitars. Quickly it transcends into the throes of trepidation, throwing in heavier riffs and rhythms to back the accelerating solos. The song takes no prisoners, however, having no trouble in transitioning into a mellow and melodic section. Even from this, the song flies into the heavier spectrum yet again, only to transition again and again, keeping the listener tuned to the stereo as the band throws countless dynamic changes in this apparently highly diverse music. Even from the first track, one can see the alarming skill the band possesses, with effortless transitions and compositional goodies peppering the track the whole way through. Despite being harsh at times in a lyrical sense, it has use with accents on the harsh swears at the most opportune times, accentuating the music at the essential parts. Overall, the song perfectly displays this band's vision, and outlines the way this band functions very well.

Silence opens with a mellow ambient acoustic part, with another great guitar solo to back it. Throwing in more ambient tricks, the song has a more spacey feel, with a much heavier emphasis on melody than metal in this track. It has a very chill atmosphere, fusing a cool proggy feel with some contrasting melodies. Although not as strong as the first track in a metal sense, it still has a strong creative output and a nice atmosphere.

Singularity has a stronger metallic groove going for it, opening with a great sweeping solo. It is a superb instrumental, showcasing the instrumental prowess of Vallen and co. (I'm not sure if there is a "co."). Although the themes get a bit repetitive, the great soloing and layering going on during the track really give it a nice spice.

Alone in the World, the massive 11 minuter on the album, is one of my favorite tracks on the album. Opening for once with a crushing djenty riff and some nice groove backing it, the track is the most obviously metal on the album. It sweeps in and out of a killer riff session and a great melodic vocal theme. With another killer guitar solo, the song's instrumental section is easily the best on the album. Vallen's unique style, although apparently Petrucci- influenced, has a really great vibe to it and has some great harmonization going on. The mellow breakdown in the middle of the track provides a nice breather to the intensity of the track and makes a nice contrast to the intense metal preceding it. The exiting solo is great, utilizing some really nice sounding sweeps and shreds. Overall, it is a fantastic track, fusing much of the band's overall style into a nice concise track.

Ephemera is a fantastic little melodic track, with some sublime harmony between the vocal parts and some really great acoustic work. The atmospheres and ambient layers also really add to the track very nicely, giving it a fantastic spacey feel. Another great feature is the symphonic pieces, accenting the music nicely. Overall a shorter, but very pretty, track; it gives the album a nice dynamic.

Equally Flawed, next to Alone in the World, is my favorite track on the album. Opening with a fantastic little piano diddy, it soon transitions into a sweeping metal groove session. Combining some really great melodies to front the great metal riffs and some really nice lyrics, the song has not trouble getting into the upper sonic echelons, utilizing some really amazing arrangements between each instrument for different themes from earlier in the track and countless other really fantastic compositional pieces.

Calliope's Son, although it opens with most likely the cheesiest opening I've ever heard is a great track. Although the first notes set you up for one of the cheesiest track ever, they soon modulate into a really fantastic mode. The song flows into a really great adventurous metal track, reaching heights as the smash hit success Haken did last year (2010), with some really fantastic metallic section and some really great contrasts and dynamics between each instrument. Overall it's a really fantastic track which really closes the album well.

ALBUM OVERALL: For a debut, this is spectacular. For an album, it's damn fantastic as well. Blasting out of only a little experience with an indie prog metal band, Sam Vallen and his trusty vocalist Jim Grey have come forth with a highly professional and superbly crafted section of music, with a fresh style and a great vision for the genre. Each track has countless little diverse tidbits that really give the album life, breathe air into a great composition, and set this band off onto the great road to success, and a great cult following of devoted prog listeners. 4 stars.

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'Moments From Ephemeral City' - Caligula's Horse (8/10)

Progressive metal has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. Of course, the style never truly halted, but it's only been in the past few years where the fusion of prog and metal has been given a new, modern face to it. Caligula's Horse is a band that aptly defines where I think the sound is at nowadays; a draw of melodies, chunky Meshuggah-like rhythms and general response to modern trends in rock. Suffice to say, this Australian act is able to avoid many of the tired conventions that once had me turn my nose at the 'new' progressive metal coming out. Made even more impressive by the fact that this is more-or- less a one man operation, Caligula's Horse and its debut album will not feel out of place in any progressive metalhead's diet.

Perhaps best known as the guitarist of Quandary, Sam Vallen forged Caligula's Horse as an attempt to get the heavier side of his musical expression out. Although vocals are offered here by the talented Jim Grey, Vallen does everything on 'Moments From Ephemeral City', from the songwriting to recording. Though Caligula's Horse now has a full band to play this music in a live setting, the debut is mostly the product of one man, and had I not known that, I would never have guessed it. Though Caligula's Horse is the debut of what could be called an 'indie' act, it is expertly executed, and the composition is only enhanced by Vallen's modern recording and emotive musicianship. In regards to the style and sound of Caligula's Horse, the fellow prog metal squires in Haken came to mind. There is a healthy acknowledgement of modern prog rock in Caligula's Horse, and the metal element of the band's sound comes out less than I would have expected. Regardless, moments such as the chugging climax to 'The City Has No Empathy' make Vallen's allegiances clear, drawing from the Meshuggah-conceived style now commonly known as 'djent'.

The composition is quite varied, ranging from Dream Theater-like instrumental fury to jazzy breaks and epic prog swells. 'Moments Of Ephemeral City' is graced by the fact that each song manages to stay significant and distinct from one another, although it was somewhat disappointing that there was never the same emotional intensity and flow of songwriting after the excellent opener. Jim Grey's vocal work is a very welcome addition to the sound of this band, giving another dimension to the sound through his smooth, even jazz-like vocal delivery. Through the heavier sections and soft observations, his voice fits the mood perfectly. Caligula's Horse leaves me wanting more of their music, although it would be even better to hear them explore their metal side more, which I felt was a little underdeveloped on the record. Regardless, 'Moments From Ephemeral City' is a great modern prog record, brimming with memorable musical themes and consistent execution. I have high hopes for this band in the future.

Review by Kempokid
4 stars In the seemingly endless sea of clinical, Dream Theater worshipping prog metal that's released, it's always nice to have bands like Caligula's Horse to help balance this out. The band's debut album, Moments From Ephemeral City demonstrate a different sort of feel compared to bands such as Dream Theater, still keeping a lot of the technicality and soloing that the genre is so known for, but having it be far more melodic and emotional, more understated in general. This album is far from perfect however, as this contains a fairly mixed bag of songs, along with being structured quite oddly, instrumental tracks spread throughout and ending the album on one of these, provided you don't listen to the bonus tracks. Even with this said, I still find the band and this album to be a breath of fresh air, especially when compared to the countless prog metal bands that are infinitely more generic.

One reason why I find this album quite good despite the uneven nature of it comes down to the fact that while it doesn't always stick the landing, when the album displays something good, it's really good, especially This City Has No Empathy and Alone In The World. This City Has No Empathy starts the album off with its most emotionally powerful moment, the beautiful melodies of the chorus having a certain punch to them despite how pleasantly it's sung, especially with the vocal harmonies giving it a certain ethereal quality. I also love how this album contains deceptively heavy riffs throughout, occasionally even incorporating a djent style with the frequent rhythmic guitar chugging, although there's still plenty of time for soaring guitar solos. Alone In The World is similarly exceptional, showing the 2 extremes of the band, the first half of it being fast and heavy, while the second half takes on a sombre tone that simply takes my breath away. This duality is what really brings out the song however, as both halves would not work anywhere near as well without the other half complementing and juxtaposing it, with an extremely emotional guitar solo tying everything together.

The softer moments on the album tend to also be quite good, SIlence especially, which while somewhat repetitive, has the bittersweet tone of it carry it extremely far, especially given how once again, the band backs everything up with some excellent melodies. My main gripe with the album is how little I find the instrumentals to add to it, yet there are 3 of them on the album. Singularity is essentially based around a single, albeit cool riff as solos are performed over the top of it, it's not bad, but I can't really call it a particularly valuable part of the album, same with Ephemera, despite some vocals near the start. Calliope's Son has a fun, quirky beginning, but again, I don't find myself loving this track all that much, despite its quality being higher than the other 2 present here. I'd strongly recommend listening to a version of this album that includes bonus tracks, as it really ties this album together far better than it otherwise would be left, as Colossus is a great, passionate song that actually displays a somewhat more mature sound by the band, while Vanishing Rites manages to be a highlight. This song starts off with a fun melody that slightly reminds me of a song that you could hear parents singing to their kids, albeit lyrically darker in this case. This melody develops into galloping riffs and another dose of heaviness in general, the delivery of it providing some intensity while maintaining the more understated nature of the band as a whole.

Overall, while this album at times feels somewhat all over the place in terms of quality, with some songs such as Alone In The World being prog metal classics in my eyes, while other songs are extremely forgettable, Equaly Flawed so much so that I forgot to mention it until now. Despite this, I like a lot of what this album does, the more melodic, emotionally charged nature of the album, similar to Karnivool, provides a more fresh take on a genre that can often feel very mediocre with its onslaught of Dream Theater or Animals As Leaders wannabes, and I'd highly recommend this album, even though their later ones get much better.

Best tracks: This City Has No Empathy, Alone in the World, Vanishing Rites

Weakest tracks: Ephemera, SIngularity, Equally Flawed

Verdict: While quite uneven in terms of quality, quite a umber of the songs easily being removable without much change to the album, I'm still quite a fan of the approach taken on this album, despite the Karnivool similarities being quite apparent. Their later albums are better than this, but this is nonetheless worthy of a couple of listens in my opinion.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Moments from Ephemeral City" is the debut full-length studio album by Australian progressive rock/metal act Caligula's Horse. The album was independently released in April 2011. Caligula's Horse was formed in early 2011 by guitarist Sam Vallen and lead vocalist Jim Grey and the rather interesting band name was chosen by Grey and refers to Roman Emperor Caligulaīs favorite horse Incitatus, of which many myths and stories exist. "Moments from Ephemeral City" is a self-produced effort, and Vallen is credited for producing, engineering, mixing, and mastering the album (in addition to writing most of the material and playing guitars).

The original version of the album features 7 tracks and a total playing time of 42:37 minutes, while the InsideOut Music reissue features the two tracks from the September 2011 "Colossus" EP as bonus material.

Stylistically the material on the album is alternative/progressive rock/metal. Grey has a strong voice and a passionate emotive delivery, which isnīt far removed from the voice and vocal style of Maynard James Keenan (Tool, A Perfect Circle). It doesnīt take more than a few seconds to realise how skilled and pleasant sounding a singer he is and how much he brings to the music. His harmonies and choirs are exquisite too. He often sings mellow and subdued, but the album does feature a couple of slightly more loud and aggressive vocal parts. Nothing extreme though, and the vocal part of the music is generally very melodic and catchy. Itīs not overtly complex music, and itīs great to be able to sing along to many of the soaring choruses, but on the other hand itīs not simple vers/chorus structured music either. There is generally a bit more to it, and most tracks feature some pretty interesting and creative instrumental sections in addition to the melodic and hook laden verses and choruses.

The tracks are obviously composed by a guitarist, because "Moments from Ephemeral City" features loads and loads of beautiful acoustic parts, blistering guitar leads, heavy syncopated guitar riffs, and many creative guitar playing ideas, which make the album and adventurous and engaging listen throughout. The rhythm section are well playing too, and Caligula's Horse are arguably an incredibly talented bunch. Drummer Geoff Irish was also involved in progressive metal act Quandary with Vallen.

Considering that "Moments from Ephemeral City" is an independently produced release, itīs quite impressive in almost every possible way. The musicianship are on a high level on all posts, the songwriting is inspired, creative, and filled with emotion, and the sound production suits the material well. But if I have to make one small complaint it would actually be regarding the sound production, because the distorted guitar parts do stand a little weak in the soundscape, and a more meaty and heavy sound on those sections could have provided those parts with a bit more punch and bite and made the transitions from the mellow and melodic parts have more impact. Iīll tell you right away though, that itīs a minor issue and "Moments from Ephemeral City" is still overall a well sounding release featuring a professional sound production.

Itīs safe to say that this is a quality release and a very impressive debut album by Caligula's Horse. I cannot believe that these guys contemplated disbanding after the release of "Moments from Ephemeral City", but apparently that was the case. Thankfully they decided to continue and solidified the recording lineup to tour in support of the album and also released the "Colossus" EP later in 2011. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is fully deserved.

(Originally posted on Metal Music Archives)

Latest members reviews

5 stars Moments from Ephemeral City It is very rare that I will find a local act with an album that I love so much I can listen to more than a few times. Months later, as I'm rapidly scrolling through my iPod, I find that every time I will still stop in the C category as I spot Caligula's Horse. The ... (read more)

Report this review (#1049757) | Posted by Ginja Ninja | Tuesday, October 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Pulling on the heartstrings from the get-go, Caligula's Horse is a melodic feast of tasteful guitar histrionics and perfectly textured grooves. I am always impressed to see the diversification of the Progressive "scene" in my home country of Australia. Thankfully for me and prog lovers abound, we ha ... (read more)

Report this review (#445540) | Posted by Dougie of Anubis | Tuesday, May 10, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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