Grails
Chalice Hymnal


4.5
superb

Review

by Dewinged CONTRIBUTOR (58 Reviews)
February 21st, 2017 | 63 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Porn for audiophiles.

It was around 2003 when Neurot Recordings was relentlessly bringing relatively unknown bands to the tapestry. Back then I had just discovered Neurosis a few years before and A Sun That Never Sets was basically my summer romance. Amber Asylum, Oxbow and Tarantula Hawk were among the many bands that started roaming the Neurot universe, a brand that was growing its seed on me very quickly but none of them came closely to the crushing impact that Grails had on my medulla oblongata.

Their debut release, Burden of Hope, showed an approach to post-rock that introduced elements from folk and world music pushing the genre's frontlines to uncharted territory, a policy that they would follow strictly release after release and that has helped them to put quite some distance in between other similar bands.

After a six years break from their previous LP Deep Politics, Grail's founding members awake the project’s long slumber and gather once more to kindle the flame. Emil Amos, the mastermind behind the project who one day bangs drums like a boss and the other he plays a mean steel guitar, depending on the weather, is also known for his solo project, the prolific Holy Sons, and also for being part of the almighty OM. Alex Hall, the guitar wizard that has also collaborated with Neurosis very own Steve Von Till in his side project, Harvestman, has also been working with Amos in their parallel adventure, the all goes-hop Lilacs & Champagne. And finally we have Zak Riles, in charge of the acoustic department and the latest member to join the fray, who has also worked with instrumental super-combo Watter, alongside Slint's drummer, Britt Waldford.

With such a covenant of personalities and the constant addition of musicians coming in and out of the band, it’s easy to say that the music of Grails is quite hard to describe. Whereas at the beginning it would be decently accurate to label them as some sort of post-rock, Grails have always taken the hard road, experimenting, evolving, switching instruments on live shows and playing with different dynamics and genres. There has always been a common element to their music though, and that is their incredible ability to create, release and maintain tension, building up their songs to bombastic crescendos that finally blow up leaving a delicate stream of sound slightly beating, like a fainted heart, weak and slowly dying.

Chalice Hymnal is Grails' 10th release and, I have to say, after 14 years they have come a very long way. Grails have incorporated elements that I, honestly, never thought they would. Brushes of trip hop, lounge and electronic music now become a graceful fusion with their already perfected post-psyche formula, while keeping that blissful Morricone character that started infecting Grails' music since Deep Politics.

It’s 2017 and Grails have grown more cinematic than ever, with Chalice Hymnal functioning perfectly as a movie score while there are still moments of the old Grails that refuse to die, wild behaving with the screaming guitars of "New Prague", flirting with psychedelic rock like the good old days of Doomsdayer's Holiday, right after being absolutely exposed by the breath-taking nudity of "Empty Chamber", one of the most beautiful and chilled out tracks the band has ever delivered. Chalice Hymnal reflects every musical facet their members have been polishing for the past years, both as musicians and as obsessive vinyl hunters, establishing Grails as an unleashed creative force capable of doing basically anything they want and owning it. Proofs of that versatility are both the dreamy feel of the title track and album opener, cracking up with Amos’ superb drumming, an aspect that would need its own review, and Hall and Riles' welcoming melodies. Without giving much away, I would only say that the album drags and traps the listener with no mercy, with several high moments like the Mesopotamic riffs of “Tough Guy” or the wonderful acoustic arrangements of "Thorns II” and “Deep Snow II”, a continuation of their previous album’s closer track. The link between Deep Politics and Chalice Hymnal is so seamless and natural that both albums flow perfectly when played one after the other.

Not content with the already outstanding display of the first 10 tracks, Grails decide to close the act with “After the Funeral", a 10 minute magnum opus that serves as a proper melancholic and post-orgasmic send-off to the pleasures catalogue that is Chalice Hymnal, an album that could very well be Grails' best work up to date and hell, why not, probably one of the best instrumental outputs of the year.



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user ratings (56)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2017


16946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Been playing around this review for some days now, and finally decided to put it out. Strong candidate for AOTY for me.



Stream it here: https://grails.bandcamp.com/album/chalice-hymnal



Bash me in the comments.



SSUP!

Digging: Deerhoof - Deerhoof vs. Evil

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2017


16946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also if you dig this, be sure to check that Watter album, because it is INSANE.

TwigTW
February 21st 2017


3824 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Interesting review, I didn't realize they were connected to Lilacs & Champagne. Listening to this for a couple of days and it's great.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2017


16946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah Twig, I wasn't familiar with their side projects either but I was plesantly surprised when I checked them.

FullOfSounds
February 21st 2017


15772 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Sounds absolutely fantastic. Pos as always

DoofusWainwright
February 21st 2017


19991 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Dewi you are getting seriously prolific with the reviews, your summary has tickled my fancy...will check this out later (album and review)

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2017


16946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks a lot guys, I am trying to work out my writing in English but I still feel there is a lot to polish and a lot to learn. Little by little though.



Back to the album, this is seriously good stuff, like production wise, songwriting, instrumentation, in my humble opinion, it doesn't get much better than this. I have always had Grails as the band I always wanted to play in.

minty901
February 21st 2017


3911 Comments


couldnt quite get into this yet. loved deep politics. hope it will click.

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2017


16946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It will Minty, this is basically a continuation of Deep Politics.

Sniff
February 21st 2017


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Im going to bash your fanboyism and then listen to this again. Found it kind of underwhelming on first listen and the only thing that really stood out was the last track. But oh boy the last track is so good

TheBarber
February 21st 2017


3848 Comments


Is this crescendo core fairy twee post-rock or good post-rock?

Digging: Esoteric - A Pyrrhic Existence

Sniff
February 21st 2017


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Crescendo core: 4%

Good post rock: 44%

Fairy twee?: 52%

TheBarber
February 21st 2017


3848 Comments


Hmm kay lets give this a jam whilst reading

Sniff
February 21st 2017


5884 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I have no idea what you mean by fairy twee tho

Deathconscious
February 21st 2017


23006 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This aint your son's post rock band.

Digging: Sanguisugabogg - Pornographic Seizures

TheBarber
February 21st 2017


3848 Comments


cheerio for clarifying me. Couple of tracks in and not bad at all, New Prague brings in the psych grooves

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2017


16946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You are right Sniff, my Grails fanboyism won me on this one.

Aluktodolo
February 22nd 2017


77 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This might just be their best, most fully realised material to date. The production and instrumentation are fantastic. So many genres touched on but it's very cohesive.



PS Good review, far more in depth than the poorly referenced Drowned in Sound piece, which managed to somehow compare a heavily influenced psych album to GY!BE. They’ve barely been anything approaching post rock for at least five releases now.

Titan
February 22nd 2017


19960 Comments


enjoy a pos Dewinged bro
your summary is what intrigued me, perhaps i need to check these guys out

Dewinged
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2017


16946 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers Titan! I don't know if you will enjoy this. It might bore you to death but give it a shot! It's definitely very relaxing and chill in contrast with our Maidens, our Crües ;)



@Aluk thanks man, I will check that DiS review too. Always interesting to know what other people has grasped from the album.



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