In only a fairly short space of time, Caligula’s Horse has gone from obscurity to one of this country’s most prominent exponents of progressive rock, and Bloom is the greatest example of why this is.
The title track opens onto acoustic guitar providing a gentle backing to Jim Grey’s fragile vocal until almost the two minute mark when crashing drums bring the rest of the band into play, gathering pace for the sudden segue into ‘Marigold’, the first of several truly great tracks on this album, with an incredible, twisted-tower riff, surging light and dark sections and Jim Grey’s remarkable singing.
The gentler ‘Firelight’ winds through some outstanding guitar solos toward the expansive magnificence of album centrepiece ‘Dragonfly’. Featuring 70s-flavoured organ passages, introspective piano and further examples of the dynamic interplay between guitarists Sam Vallen and Zac Greensill and a brilliant performance from Grey whose similarity to Jeff Buckley at times here is astonishing, this is a high-water mark for progressive rock and metal. Simply amazing. ‘Rust’ follows immediately after, the heaviest and darkest of Bloom‘s tracks with another gob-stoppingly wrist-aching guitar display. ‘Turntail’ is also a heavy hitter, driven by a darkly churning riff overlaid with strong vocal melodies.
Just when you think Bloom couldn’t deliver any more, ‘Daughter of the Mountain’ enters the frame ebbing and flowing through darkness and light with more gorgeous melodies and dazzling instrumental interplay. ‘Undergrowth’ brings the album full circle, with Grey pulling off more Buckley-like falsetto accompanied only by acoustic guitar. Bloom is nothing less than superb, an emotive masterpiece of depth, fire and reflection from a band that is still to reach its creative zenith.
7. Daughter of the Mountain