The music on Gods And Devils has a long and interesting history behind it. Members of the group met with filmmakers Brett Ingram and Jim Havercamp about recording music for a documentary project about claymation animator Bruce Bickford. The group worked on music to accompany a series of short animations by Bickford, then went back and reworked that music with more elaborate instrumentation for the documentary itself (which was eventually released under the titled Monster Road). In turn, the group went back once again and re-arranged and expanded on many of the ideas from that score. The result is Gods And Devils, their first new release in four years.
If you've never heard Shark Quest, they're a bit of a tough band to describe in that they jump around a fair amount in the music they create. An all-instrumental band, one could simply toss them into the post-rock pot along with hundreds of other bands, but they really do have a style that sticks out. While their work is definitely cinematic, it's definitely not as dark or moody as much of the instrumental music released by groups these days. In listening to the first track on the disc alone ("The Rosetta Barrage"), one can hear a bit of indie rock, country, and even celtic music. A lively guitar melody provides an almost whimsical feel while heavier rhythmic elements build around it and eventually the track turns into an almost southwestern stomper.
"Sin The Moon" feels even more cinematic as reverbed guitars stretch into open spaces at the beginning and even goes through a middle section that could be described as laid-back surf rock. One thing that can never be said about Gods And Devils is that it's lazy. There is a huge amount of very nimble playing, and at times the guitar work even borders on classical in how precisely it's delivered. When they start pulling even more varied instrumentation into the mix (as on the lovely "Katherine Of Krakow"), the group is able to show off their widely varied skills even more. The track starts out like an almost jaunty ballroom piano track and moves into a string-touched mid-section that borders on chamber rock before again high-tailing things back into more upbeat territory (with guitars that wouldn't sound out-of-place in a Morricone score). Needless to say, Gods And Devils is an eclectic release that probably isn't for everyone, but if you can imagine Grails suddenly injecting some humour into their music, it might sound something like this.