Reno, Nevada’s Four Stroke Baron are an odd affair. They appear with the minimum of fuss and the trio play a set – although multi-faceted and full of colour – delivered in a particularly understated way. 

Here, though, the music speaks for itself. Perhaps because they are so unfamiliar to many, they are comfortable playing a lot of new material from an album out on Friday. “The Witch”, though and “Cyborg Part 3 (Because I’m God)” both continue the Four Stroke Baron tradition of being heavy as all hell but with more pop melody on the vocals than Cher.

They are a clever band. “Fourth Of July” is an obvious highlight and “Cyclops Prime” is brim-full of ideas, and that is a neat metaphor for Four Stroke Baron in general.

Germany’s The Hirsch Effekt, are the second of this package that has been rolling around Europe. They are a very different proposition than the opener. Much heavier, a more “modern” prog, if you will.

There’s an energy. That’s for certain and “Kris” shines a light on that, and there’s a tinge of Djent elsewhere. 

“Inukshuk” is intricate and intriguing, and while there’s a new song of greater melody, this first trip to Nottingham ends with “Lifnej” – a real maelstrom of a thing. As an exercise in making new friends, it has passed every test.

Jim Grey is a proper frontman in a classic mould. The rest of the band are there on stage, playing the intro to “The World Breathes With Me” – the opening track on the stunning “Charcoal Grace” record” when he marches out with a yell of “Let’s fucking do this!”.

This is his domain, and he’s the king of this castle.

That song ushers in a clever set. One which Grey – who formed the band with Sam Vallen, the band’s magnificent guitar player- describes as a “Time Machine”.

How that manifests itself is after a couple of songs from “….Grace”, things move back to 2015 for the title track of “Bloom” which rather shows they’ve always been this good.

Moving to 2017 means “In Contact”, with the pair from there including “Dream The Dead”, which thunders, but the Brisbane quartet have been taking the opportunity to dig back into the back catalogue, and “These Hands Are The Hardest” is dusted off for the first time in seven years.

The 2020 stuff (“We’re gonna take you back to a year that you don’t wanna remember,” jokes the singer) is oddly euphoric looking back, and sees a real singalong with a huge-sounding “Oceanrise”. These are stadium songs in all but name.

But it’s back to the future, or more accurately the present and that “…Grace” album. It might be the best of their career and “The Stormchaser” and the more involved “Mute” are impossible to be in awe of.

They return for a “piece of fun performative nonsense” as Grey puts it, of an encore. “Daughter Of The Mountain” is a beauty too.

Indeed, for all that Grey loves being the Ring Master, he’s a humble one: “If you’d told me when Sam and I started this band,” he muses. “That we’d be over the other side of the world playing to all of you, I don’t think we’d have believed it.”

And yet, it is real. For this reason: Caligula’s Horse are a wonderful, original Prog Metal band.

More From Author


Popular Posts

Latest Gig Reviews

Latest Music Reviews


Band Of The Day