Ah heck. I know I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating that I only wish I had the time and resources to hear every single piece of good music that comes out per year. Every 12 months it seems that I get exponentially behind, trying to keep track of current releases while simultaneously hunting down overlooked things from years past. Fortunately, I only let a couple months pass into the new year before discovering Grails, as this is a great little release that I unfortunately overlooked and would now like to set things straight with.
It's true that this release came out on Neurot Recordings, which is known not only for being the home of Neurosis, but for putting out some pretty heavy music in general. Grails is an anamoly on the label, then, because they create stirring instrumental music that mixes a touch of Dirty Three with a smidge of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and a dash of Rachel's for something that's quite a treat. Although The Burden Of Hope is split into 10 different tracks, the album feels more like one piece with many different movements as one track glides into the next and slight changes turn into nicely dynamic ones.
One of the thing that the group does well is keep enough changes to hold your interest. The entire album is just under 40 minutes long, and unlike some quote-unquote post rock bands (yes, even the venerable aforementioned GY!BE), the album rarely seems to get stuck in a rut. The album-titled track "Burden Of Hope" starts off the release and shuffles along slowly with guitars and violin playing off one another as the track builds to a peak and then bursts forth several times following that. "Lord I Hate Your Days" strips things down even more, to just guitar and very minimal percussion.
Although "The Deed" feels a tad on the longish side, it's followed up with what is probably the best track on the disc on "In The Beginning." Twinkling pianos mingle with simple guitar melody, and the two play back and forth for awhile quietly before letting loose in a beautiful release that falls apart and into the also-lovely "Invocation." Even "Space Prophet Dogon," which starts out sounding a bit too much like a fiddle-hoedown bends outward during a last half, rocking with a serious gritty bassline and thunderous drums. While it may not be anything that you haven't heard before, Grails does this type of music a lot better than most. If you like any of the aforementioned bands or anyone like them, this is a release you'll want to own.