In Repeated Praise of “Rise Radiant” by Caligula’s Horse (2020 Album of the Year)

“You, you were leading us into autumn, ever forward.” When Caligula’s Horse released Rise Radiant at the end of May, only the Lord knew how the chorus of the album’s gorgeous penultimate track would become a prayer of hopeful anticipation and later a psalm of praise as those prayers were answered just two months later. Rise Radiant narrates one of the most significant periods of transition and growth of my entire life and, although I do not have to bend any objective assessment to justify Rise Radiant’s position as Album of the Year, my decision here is more subjective and personal than anything else.

I have already written a full review on this album elsewhere, so I will not retread the ground I covered there; Caligula’s Horse is a titan of progressive metal and I argue that Rise Radiant is far and away their best release, surpassing the album that blew them up three years ago and put them on the map almost overnight. As much as I appreciate the album musically and lyrically (and six months later I continue to find more to appreciate), I appreciate the album even more so for it’s personal relevance, as it’s themes of change and growth amid struggle perfectly correspond to this past summer where I ended my long (and often painful) tenure in pest control to transition to limited vocational ministry. More than any other release this year, Rise Radiant was timely, and perfectly so, and there is a quality to timely music that no objective assessment could ever fully appreciate or describe.

I have nothing else to say here, so I will end this series (and this year) with the lyrics of the album’s closing movement, sung with divine polyphony and far more glorious than they appear:

“The way is forward
The fall will take form into ascent.
You are the sun, ascend
Rise radiant.
Become the light alive
The fight and the climb
The strife, the day
We are the sun
Rise radiant.
My love, the way forward
The fall will take form into ascent
You are the sun, ascend
Rise radiant.
Become the light alive
The fight and the climb
The strife, the day
We are the sun
Rise radiant, my love.”

If you have thoughts, let me hear them!

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