Thursday night saw a stellar line-up of Australian metal take over North London, as Caligula’s Horse brought their tour to promote their latest album In Contact to the Boston Music Room, for what turned out to be a presentation of the best that modern Australian progressive metal has to offer.
Opening the night were the instrumental trio I Built The Sky. The lone guitarist employed a loop pedal to play multiple complex parts, while the rock-solid rhythm section behind him provided the well-thought out skeletons of the songs. The lads visibly enjoyed the warm reception and had great fun on stage, even directing a ‘high-five wall of death’ at one point – an altogether friendlier way to conduct a moshpit.
The second set came from Circles – an interesting mixture of prog, djent and alternative metal, their sound draws comparisons with acts as varied as Meshuggah, At The Drive-In and Deftones. The vocal trio upfront had some wonderful moments of contrast between melody and harshness, with sometimes all three harmonizing simultaneously to carry the song forward. They showcased songs from their excellent new album The Last One, and impressed with the tightness of their playing and the completeness of their sound.
With the audience sufficiently warmed up, Caligula’s Horse came out to an enthusiastic reception for what they described as their biggest ever headlining show in Europe. They opened with the eight-minute epic ‘Dream the Dead’ off their new album, an early highlight showcasing their excellent songwriting. Vocalist Jim Grey is a charismatic bandleader and terrifically good singer, switching with ease between powerful roars, soaring wails and gentle falsettos. Alongside him is a fantastic band of instrumentalists who never once showed a sign of hesitation, playing with the precision and technique that these songs require.
The setlist displayed variety from one song to the other but also within songs, with some of the longer cuts showcasing the eclectic mix of styles that Caligula’s Horse are capable of playing. One such example was the fifteen-minute giant ‘Graves’, which included frequent changes in rhythm, a sax solo and even a short Gregorian chant interlude. The wonderful duo of ‘Bloom’ and ‘Marigold’ brought the main set to a close, and triggered the inevitable chants for a ‘one more song’.
The beginning of the encore felt extra special as frontman Jim Grey started off by performing a beat poem from their latest album – ‘Inertia and the Weapon of the Wall’. The ensuing silence as the entire venue listened with our breaths held was a definite ‘shiver-down-the-spine’ moment. The poem transitioned into ‘The Cannon’s Mouth’, providing a cathartic conclusion to the show. The London audience gave Caligula’s Horse a thoroughly deserved send-off, and with the successful trajectory that these guys are on, it’s just a matter of time until we see them conquer ever larger stages in the future.