This instrumental unit is generally respected but not widely known outside the post-rock lovers of the indie-rock world. Despite being on prominent labels, they’ve flown under the radar; their records get reviewed, but they seem to garner only a minimal following.
On Doomsdayer’s Holiday, they’ve altered their sound significantly from their previous work, moving away from the smoldering, somber, violin-driven instro-rock, which often evoked the dark beauty of the Dirty Three towards much more “aggressive” work, as evidenced by the goth-metal vibrations of the opening track. It’s not heavy metal, per se, but this is by far their heaviest set of songs. That’s not to say it’s their best.
Gone is the dusky mood of the old stuff, one of their hallmarks, which gave their music its resonant qualities. It’s replaced by an assertiveness that feels out of place in their hands. And while it’s impressive to witness Grails flexing some muscle, I don’t know if going aggro suits their usually spare physique. Hell, they wander so far afield here that they get quasi-funky on “Immediate Mate.” But there’s hope of return: the seven minute closer, “Acid Rain,” brings us back home again with a noir quality somewhat reminiscent of the cinematic starkness of their previous material.
This is a band most people will never know about. They play music that has little commercial viability in the mass-pop marketplace, and little following in the nurturing underbelly of independent music. It would be a shame if this shift in sound is a move toward attracting more commercial airplay, because this band is better than the “heavy” band that might get played on the local Razor FM station featured here.