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Grails - Chalice Hymnal CD (album) cover




Psychedelic/Space Rock

3.84 | 26 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars When I put this CD into my player recently, it was probably for second time ever, ie. the first time since my music critic friend gave it to me a few years ago. Since I had no clear memories of the music, I thought it to be just another seedy indie rock release and my intention was only to check out it was nothing worth saving. Soon after realizing it is actually instrumental, I thought "hey, this band might be on ProgArchives, perhaps categorized as Post-Rock". And indeed they are, albeit as Psychedelic/Space Rock. And, you know, whenever I hear an interesting album without any reviews here, I'm willing to write one. Curiously the preceding album Deep Politics (2011) by this Portland, Oregon based band was quite heavily reviewed here at the time, while no one has reviewed this seventh and last album to date.

The whole discography of Grails is evenly rated with four stars on All Music Guide. According to the album review there, "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." So, it seems that on Chalice Hymnal they sound more Post-Rock than before, incorporating less of the "blazing psych-rock guitars".

The album-opening title track immediately weaves a slightly hallucinatory atmosphere. A bit like early Porcupine Tree, plus some saxophone and powerful drumming. 'Pelham' is like a mix of Giorgio Moroder, a Goblin horror soundtrack and Post-Rock bands such as Magyar Posse or Plain Fade -- both Finnish. 'Empty Chamber' is a slow, dreamy, atmospheric piece. 'New Prague' is heavier and more guitar-oriented, perhaps more in the vein of their earlier output? 'Deeper Politics' (notice the reference to the preceding album) starts rather boringly but the soundscape grows beautifully.

It's important that there's a variety of moods among the eleven tracks. Some are sombre, some are almost romantic at heart, although pretty sad, such as 'Rebecca' with a sensual softness reminding me of Vangelis' Blade Runner soundtrack, or the slow and spacey 'The Moth & the Flame'. And unlike with [too] many Post-Rock bands, you can often easily hear individual instruments, including also acoustic guitar or piano. I recommend this album if you like deep and dreamy atmospheres and hope Post-Rock to be more accessible than it often tends to be.

Matti | 4/5 |


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