Rather than pick up where they left off, Grails take the sky-high riff-based heaviness of their earlier albums and distill it into a nuanced, widescreen opus. The perennial influences of mid-20th century Western film scores, obscure library music, and psychedelic krautrock are indelibly imprinted, but Chalice Hymnalexudes an eerie patience in unfurling the many layers of its subtle details. Produced by the band over the past five years, Chalice Hymnal bears some of the European psych and experimental hip-hop production techniques of founding members Alex Hall and Emil Amos’ other group, Lilacs & Champagne. Amos’ meditative metal band, Om, and longtime singer-songwriter project, Holy Sons, also naturally find their way into the Chalice cauldron. Rounding out their line-up, cofounder Zak Riles (also of experimental kraut-psych trio, Watter) layers synths and programming into an electronic-prog hybrid that pushes Grailsfurther into the deep end, displaying a profound resonance, both musically and emotionally. No one else sounds like Grails, and on Chalice Hymnal they sound more like themselves than ever before.
Helen Money is a cellist who has become known for her adventurous sound, bold compositions, and compelling stage performance. Called “A classical-cellist-turned-avant-metal virtuoso” by the Boston Phoenix, she channels her sensibilities and experience as a rock musician through a classical instrument, altering both genres without apology. She has played on over 150 albums with artists such as Disturbed, Bob Mould, Mono, Anthrax, Broken Social Scene, Russian Circles, and Archer Prewitt among others.
Black Duck is an enigmatic & electric new outfit out of Chicago that features Douglas McCombs and Bill MacKay on guitars, and Charles Rumback on drums. The trio’s propulsive psych-inflected grooves and ethereal improvisations have found enthusiastic favor with fans of varied temperaments and motivations.