Caligula's Horse

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Caligula's Horse
Caligula's Horse @ Euroblast Festival 2018-10-05 050.jpg
Singer Jim Grey at Euroblast Festival 2018
Background information
Also known asC-Horse
OriginBrisbane, Queensland, Australia
GenresProgressive metal, progressive rock
Years active2011–present
LabelsWelkin, Inside Out Music
  • Sam Vallen
  • Jim Grey
  • Josh Griffin
  • Dale Prinsse
Past members
  • Geoff Irish
  • Zac Greensill
  • Adrian Goleby
  • Dave Couper

Caligula's Horse is an Australian progressive metal band from Brisbane, Queensland. The band was formed by Sam Vallen and Jim Grey in early 2011. The current lineup consists of lead vocalist Jim Grey, lead guitarist Sam Vallen, bassist Dale Prinsse and drummer Josh Griffin.[1] Caligula's Horse achieved their first chart success with their 2015 album release Bloom, with it reaching number 16 on the Australian Albums ARIA Chart and number 75 on the overall album chart.[2] The album also reached number 73 on the Australian iTunes chart on 21 October 2015.[3]

Their first album, Moments from Ephemeral City (2011), and a follow up EP, Colossus (2011), were released independently before signing with Welkin Records and releasing their second album, The Tide, the Thief & River's End (2013).[4] The band then signed with Inside Out Music for the release of their third album, Bloom (2015),[5] and their fourth album In Contact (2017).[6] The band released their fifth album, Rise Radiant, on 22 May 2020.[7]


2011: Formation and Moments from Ephemeral City / Colossus[edit]

In early 2011 Caligula's Horse was formed by Sam Vallen and Jim Grey. The band is named after the prized possession, Incitatus, of Roman Emperor Caligula by Grey, who was studying ancient history and classical languages at university.[8] Initially Caligula's Horse consisted of only Grey on vocals and Vallen playing multiple instruments. Their debut album Moments from Ephemeral City was independently released on 2 April 2011. Vallen is credited with the songwriting, guitars, production, audio engineering, mixing and mastering.[9] The band initially could not decide whether to continue or not, but after the online response for their album they decided they should expand their lineup for live shows.[10] The lineup expanded to include Zac Greensill, Geoff Irish and Dave Couper. To showcase their new lineup a two-track EP Colossus was released in September 2011.[11]

2012-2014: The Tide, the Thief & River's End[edit]

In mid 2012 the band entered the studio to commence their follow up LP. Their album The Tide, the Thief & River's End was released 13 October 2013 through Welkin Records. This was a concept album with each track listed in a chronological order to tell a story that refers to the uprising of rebels, called "The Tide", within the city of "River's End", and a journey of oppressed people finding a safe haven that has unfortunate similarities between the old and new city. "The Thief" is the only character who remains in the story from start to finish.[12]

The band undertook an intense touring schedule within Australia after the release of the album, and became known for their energetic live show and stage presence.[13] The band was part of Progfest Sydney 2013[14] and Progfest Melbourne 2014.[15] They toured with bands Opeth, Mastodon, The Dillinger Escape Plan, Protest the Hero, The Ocean, Firewind, Twelve Foot Ninja, and Ne Obliviscaris.[1]

2015-2016: Bloom[edit]

After their second album they gained the interest of the recording label, InsideOut Music, and signed on to release their third album through them. Prior to the release of the album the band toured around Australia with TesseracT and played a mix of crowd favourites and unreleased songs off Bloom. Bloom was released 16 October 2015[5] and in its debut week on the ARIA charts it reached number 16 on the Australian band's chart and 75 on the overall chart.[2] It peaked at 73 on the iTunes Australian charts in its first week.[3] The album cover was designed by Chris Stevenson-Mangos who was given the aim of creating "something colourful and vibrant, somewhat circular in design (no hard edges) but perhaps suggesting stained-glass, and showing lots of nature imagery".[16]

An official music video was released for "Firelight" off the Bloom album.[17]

Caligula's Horse began their first European tour with Shining in October and November 2015.[18]

Sam Vallen and Zac Greensill were nominated on Total Guitar reader's poll for the best prog rock guitarist of 2015.[19]

On 30 May 2016, it was announced that Geoff Irish had left the band.[20] On 10 August 2016, Josh Griffin was announced as Irish's replacement.[21] On 28 January 2017, rhythm guitarist Zac Greensill announced his departure to focus on his side project, Opus of a Machine. He was replaced by Adrian Goleby, who had played bass in Arcane, Jim Grey's first band.

2017-2019: In Contact[edit]

On 4 August 2017, the song Will's Song (Let the Colours Run) was released along with its music video on the 23 August, as a tease to their new album.

On 15 September 2017, the band published In Contact, the first featuring Adrian Goleby and Josh Griffin, respectively their new guitarist and drummer, and the last to feature bassist Dave Couper, who quit the band the next year. In Contact received a highly positive acclaim, particularly in the progressive rock/metal community.[22]

On 10 December 2018, Dave Couper announced his departure from the band, mainly for health and financial reasons, as well as other musical aspirations. On 5 March 2019, Dale Prinsse was announced as the new bassist. He was already known for having formerly being called "C-Horse's sixth member", helping them with the mixing and production of their albums, and for playing bass in former Caligula's Horse guitarist Zac Greensill's project Opus of a Machine.

In September 2019, the band played their first four concerts in the Americas.

2020-present: Rise Radiant[edit]

On 22 May 2020 the band released their fifth album Rise Radiant.[7] This was preceded by the release of three singles from the album: The Tempest, Slow Violence, and Valkyrie.

On 6 July 2021, the departure of Adrian Goleby was announced, the guitarist citing a will to "journey to the next stage of [his] experience of life". The band thanked him dearly for his contributions, declaring that they would not be seeking out for another guitarist for the time, with the band remaining a four-piece.

Musical style and influences[edit]

The band has been described as progressive rock[23] and progressive metal.[5]

Lead guitarist and composer Sam Vallen cites Steely Dan as an influence, frequently using the American band's signature add2 or "mu" chords for his compositions.[24]

Band members[edit]

Current members

  • Jim Grey – lead vocals (2011–present)
  • Sam Vallen – lead guitar (2011–present)
  • Josh Griffin – drums (2016–present)
  • Dale Prinsse – bass (2019–present)

Past members

  • Dave Couper – bass, vocals (2011–2018)
  • Geoff Irish – drums (2011–2016)
  • Zac Greensill – guitar, vocals (2011–2017, guest in the early 2022 tour)
  • Adrian Goleby – guitar (2017–2021)



Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
Moments from Ephemeral City
The Tide, the Thief & River's End
  • Released: 2013
  • Label: Welkin Records (WELKIN003)
  • Format: CD, digital download
  • Released: 2015
  • Label: Inside Out Music (IOMLP 434)
  • Format: CD, digital download, LP
In Contact
  • Released: September 2017
  • Label: Inside Out Music (IOMLP 488)
  • Format: CD, digital download, LP
Rise Radiant
  • Released: May 2020
  • Label: Inside Out Music (IOMLP 547)
  • Format: CD, digital download, LP
23 43 25

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
  • Released: 2011
  • Label: Caligula's Horse
  • Format: CD, digital download


Queensland Music Awards[edit]

The Queensland Music Awards (previously known as Q Song Awards) are annual awards celebrating Queensland, Australia's brightest emerging artists and established legends. They commenced in 2006.[27]

Year Nominee / work Award Result (wins only)
2016[28] "Marigold" Heavy Song of the Year Won


  1. ^ a b "The Band". Caligula's Horse (Official Site). Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Caligula's Horse's 'Bloom' Reaches #16 on ARIA Australian Albums Chart!". Wild Thing Presents. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  3. ^ a b "Caligula's Horse - 'Bloom': Australian iTunes Chart Performance". iTunes Charts. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  4. ^ "The Tide, The Thief & River's End". Caligula's Horse (Official Site). Archived from the original on 12 September 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  5. ^ a b c "Caligula's Horse". Inside Out Music. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  6. ^ "Rogue Inc". Rogue Inc. Retrieved 19 September 2017.
  7. ^ a b "Caligula's Horse announces details of their forthcoming album 'Rise Radiant'". Metal Obsession. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  8. ^ Morrison, Robyn. "Things You Didn't Know About Caligula's Horse (But Should)". Heavy Magazine. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  9. ^ "Moments from Ephemeral City (2011)". Caligula's Horse (Official Site). Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  10. ^ Belling, Alasdair. "Caligula's Horse: Interview with Jim Grey". Kill Your Stereo.
  11. ^ Charles, Tim. "The Tide, The Thief & River's End". Welkin Records (Bandcamp). Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  12. ^ "CALIGULA'S HORSE: Colourful, Energetic and Dynamic". Prog Sphere. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  13. ^ "Caligula's Horse detail new album 'Bloom'". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  14. ^ "Progfest Sydney lineup announced feat. Meniscus, Caligula's Horse, Shanghai and more!". Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  15. ^ "Progfest 2014 national tour and lineup announcement". Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  16. ^ "Interview with Sam from Caligula's Horse". Tomatrax. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  17. ^ Fireflight Official Video, retrieved 2 December 2015
  18. ^ "Tour". Caligula's Horse (Official Site). Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  19. ^ "Who is the best rock guitarist of 2015?". MusicRadar. Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  20. ^ Lords of Metal ezine, retrieved 5 March 2019
  21. ^ " Caligula’s Horse : introduce new drummer with 'Rust' play-through video ", retrieved 5 March 2019
  22. ^ Kronos (29 September 2017). "Caligula's Horse - In Contact Review". Angry Metal Guy. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  23. ^ "Caligula's Horse Premiere New Song, "Marigold" - Hard Rock & Heavy Metal News | Music Videos |Golden Gods Awards |". Retrieved 2 December 2015.
  24. ^ Astley-Brown 2017-10-05T09:48:58.277ZGuitars, Michael. "10 questions for Caligula's Horse guitarist Sam Vallen". MusicRadar. Retrieved 20 March 2019.
  25. ^ "Caligula's Horse discography". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  26. ^ a b "Caligula's RISE RADIANT (ALBUM)". Hung Medien. Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  27. ^ "About the Queensland Music Awards". Queensland Music Awards. Retrieved 21 March 2021.
  28. ^ "Past Winners 2016". Queensland Music Awards. Retrieved 25 March 2021.

External links[edit]