on 31 October 2008
Many might have originally lumped Grails in the archetypal post-rock genre but release after release has shown a band that is unwilling to compromise when it comes to experimental rock, taking in a host of worldly and left-of-field influences under their wing and developing them into soundscapes that growl and purr like no other. With their latest (and most heavy release) Doomsdayer's Holiday, they cement their status as one of leftfield rocks most exotic and adventurous properties. Following up from the recent `Take Refuge In Clean Living' EP which was a masterclass in psychedelic space-rock ambience, Grails have returned with their darkest and heaviest record yet. Like a enthralling and off-kilter hybrid of Malesch era Agitation Free, early Ossanna, Earth and Tarantula Hawk, Grails ride a heady wave of Seventies psyche-tinged progressive-rock that grinds on a dark and adventurous underbelly of deep molten-bass. Written over the last 18 months and with Faust conspirator Steven Wray Lobdell and Earth/Sunn O))) producer Randall Dunn in tow as engineers, the band deliver on the promises made by their previous albums with `Doomsdayers Holiday' being an epically produced melodic versus dark, peak'n'valley excursion through a myriad of leftfield influences (even the cover eschews those of the 70's jazz-fusion masters). Throughout, this release sees the band move fluidly and strategically from introspective psycho-ambience to mountain-ascending riffs all-the-while applying eerie and glistening mysticism through a utilisation of Eastern psychedelic folk-metal motifs, cosmic free-jazz exploration and 70's European film noir melodics.
Opener and titletrack `Doomsdayer's Holiday' showcases the epic proportions and massive dynamics of the newly produced Grail's sound as windswept feedback darts across a buoyant terrain of engorging bass, deeply muffled percussives and forlorn prog-melodies. From the tightly wound East-meets-West psyche fusion of `Reincarnation Blues' to the all-encompassing whirling escalator-riffage of `Predestination Blues' which invites the legendary Alan Bishop of Sun City Girls to add vocals to the mix, `Doomsdayer's Holiday' is a envelop-pushing affair which looks studiously back into time in order to progress ever-forward. The follow-up track `X-Contaminations' plows a deeply ominous field of tentatively simmering Eastern doom-folk. The interplay between deep bass oozes and shimmering melodica carves out an enchanting celestial path before giving way to a dormant basin of feedback which paves the way for closer `Acid Rain'. Akin to the hazy sunshine hitting your eyes after a night of reckless abandon, the closing track lifts you out of the doom-laden quagmire of the preceeding 30 minutes and into a gracious stew of summer-time melodics which writhe with a jazzy swing.
Being a culmination of a prolific three years in which they have continuously built upon their sound and have been labeled as one of the lead purveyors of contemporary experimental rock, `Doomsdayer's Holiday' resonates with the sound of a band that puts the influences of past-masters under their spell and manipulates them into a transient soundscape that is unreservedly proprietary. After such an epic, one can only wonder what is in store next for Grails as they continue upon their path of progressive experimentation. (KS)
For fans of: Ossanna, The For Carnation, Tarantula Hawk, Agitation Free, Earth
on 19 July 2014
Great album very happy to have on vinyl. HOWEVER you want to take the vinyl out its inner artwork sleeve and put it into a plain paper one when your done. I played it twice before realising it has paper scuffs, nothing that effects the play but really boiled my blood.
You either play them and prepare yourself for slight damages from time to time or you NEVER play them.
Doomsday Holiday, Deep Politics and Burning off Impurities are some of the best albums since the millennium and the grails are a band everyone should give a chance if they are more open minded than the mass pop craving morons.
on 21 February 2009
Up until now i thought that "Red light" was the best Grails CD,Black tar prophecies and Burning of impurities,although good,meandered a little in places for me.There is little i can add to the first review,except to say this is their best so far,a brilliant instrumental album from a band forging a sound of their own.Superb.