Release Date: Feb 17, 2017
Record label: Temporary Residence
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Experimental Rock, Neo-Psychedelia
The main problem with the likes of Sigur Rós, Explosions In The Sky, Mono and Godspeed You! Black Emperor is they're far too narrow-minded and po-faced to properly delve into the sumptuous sounds of 70s porn flicks. Those bands are often written about in terms such as "lush", "cinematic", "transcendent" and "climactic". Well I can think of another medium that fits those descriptions and it usually opens with a moustachioed repairman arriving to mend the fridge.
Chalice Hymnal is the first proper full-length from Grails since 2011's remarkable Deep Politics, although a second collection of their exploratory Black Tar Prophecies EP series arrived in between. As with every Grails album, the group continues to push its sound further, incorporating new influences, instruments, and production techniques. As clichéd as the genre name "post-rock" has become, the musical progression of the Grails catalog embodies the term perfectly, as the band has continually moved far beyond convention into something truly unique and indefinable.
Longtime members of an ever-growing club of musicians who prefer not to put all of their eggs in one basket, Emil Amos, Alex Hall, and Zak Riles, the three members of Grails, keep busy with both main and side projects. Which ones are which, though, hasn't remained in stone. Between 2007 and 2011, Grails released four studio albums. Two of those, Doomsdayer's Holiday and Take Refuge in Clean Living, pole-ends of aggression and chill on the stoner post-rock spectrum, both came in 2008 alone.
If "rock" can be a verb, then so can "post-rock," and Grails know how to post-rock. The Portland group began after the genre's first wave, but they're so well-versed in dramatic, soundtrack-ready instrumentalism that they could pass for originators in a blindfold test. Through seven albums over 15 years, they've made a convincing case for the potential and durability of post-rock, covering diverse terrain--metal, psych, krautrock, ambience, soft rock--while maintaining a consistent musical language.
Grails have existed in the post-rock/hardcore liminal zone for some time. Hugely respected within their scene but never really rising to the top of the genre and into the wider public conscious, being better known for guitarist Emil Amos' stoner metal band, Om. Currently, on Temporary Residence (Explosions in the Sky, Mono) a label known for its extensive post-rock back catalogue, they now follow up 2011's Deep Politics.