The mega Grails return! Whilst this project may have seemed quiet for the last 5 years, the members have been busy writing Chalice Hymnal whilst working with their other projects OM, Watter and Lilacs & Champagne. Chalice Hymnal manages to throw them all together like a worldly-psych-drone hotpot filled with spacey near distance guitars, washy brass ensembles and crisp heavy drums.
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This is that good prog. This is that prog for guitar soloed skylines and heavy metal churches. This is that prog for “Baker Street” enthusiasts and wannabe choir members. This is that epic, everlasting, synth-soaked high-fantasy goodness. I’ll tell you why: because it contains the multi-instrumentation of three absolutely prog-absorbed jesters, parcelling Emil Amos (of Holy Sons) with Alex John Hall (a Lilacs & Champagne fellow) and VM Zak Riles (whose krauty endeavours may have hypnotised all your friends by now).
Opening on one of the most ornate things I’ve heard this year, the lamenting and beautiful post-rock of “Chalice Hymnal”, the band known as Grails go on to make some truly ambitious instrumental music that could just as easily recall Chris Forsyth as it would Tangerine Dream. It’s full of guitars both silked and gnarled, and matches their mixture of repetitions and wanky solos with dreamlike synths that put you straight on an elevator to the heavens. The drums are the intersection -- Amos plays crisp and precise, cutting down the middle, between their love of fantastical and harsh.
More indebted to jazz than ever on this record, their sound deviates into moments of smooth band ambience, “Empty Chamber” laying a gorgeous keyboard line of clouds down for their processed vocals to sweep through. “Deeper Politics” employs an ominous, descending and fluctuating piano line atop a downtrodden rhythm and a backdrop of near inaudible jazz -- it’s complemented with a crunchy distorted guitar up close to your ears, pairing the band’s many instrumental influences in a compelling discordant jamble. What a great imaginary world they construct from this mixture: I feel like I’m riding the train to work on a track made of rainbows.
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- Chalice Hymnal by Grails
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