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Grails - Chalice Hymnal album review

Post-rock foursome continue their journey into soundscapes.

This Portland, Oregon quartet incorporate elements of post-rock, prog, dub and psychedelia and found most acclaim with their last release, when 2011’s Deep Politics saw them mould a much more expansive, widescreen sound full of film score atmospherics and string-laden sumptuousness, as well as unnerving sound effects.

Six years on, they’ve finally got round to capitalising on that breakthrough. The exotica is toned down a few notches, but at its best it’s similarly evocative and at times equally intoxicating. It delves back into the Slint-y post-rock pastures of their early work at times, but the same sweeping sonic vistas are sprawled across their sound regularly. A shimmeringly aquatic ambience characterises Rebecca, then the haunting fretless bass that accompanies washing waves on a beach on The Moth & The Flame offers a desolate yet enticing vision. Its proggier moments come with Pelham’s urgent yet arhythmical synth rock thunder and After The Funeral’s echoes of squonky sax and disjointed percussion. But even then, they’re dressed in the kind of mournful, foreboding strings that give you the strong feeling that something decidedly spiritual is afoot.