Grails, "Acid Rain"

cover imageTaking a moment to not release yet another album, this retrospective DVD features videos for some of the band's studio cuts, live footage from across their career and behind the scenes vignettes. There is three hours of great music included here and hardly a dull moment. The videos are a treat for the eyes and while the live footage is no Bon Jovi spectacular, it fully captures the energy and excitement of the group's live performances. The whole package is a great way to get re-acquainted with a concise but frequently brilliant body of work.


Temporary Residence

The videos included on Acid Rain are all of a similar style, montages made from various old film sources. Depending on the piece of music (mostly culled from Doomsdayer’s Holiday with one track each from the two albums previous to it), the footage is assembled by Emil Amos from obscure horror, martial arts, news and science films. The mixture of occult ritual, Asian mysticism and documentary works well with the sounds. I thought that Doomsdayer’s Holiday was a little weak compared to the run of albums Grails released before it but the music works so much better with the visuals. The only niggling problem with the videos is that there is no “play all” option.

The live show included was recorded in 2007 in New York and shows the band ploughing through pieces from their Black Tar Prophecies and Burning Off Impurities albums. The music from these albums is very Middle Eastern and the live footage is interspersed with arid mountain ranges at night; it is easy to imagine Grails soundtracking Dune. The band was (and still is) performing as a four piece and it is amazing how big they sound. I always assumed that there were a lot of overdubs on the studio recordings but, as this DVD shows, they are well adept at recreating their evocative music on stage.

The “Earlier Days” section is a compilation of live performances and home video from, um, their earlier days with a slightly larger line up. The audio is not of a consistently good quality but it never dips below being listenable. Most importantly, by focusing almost exclusively on music and not unnecessary banter, this DVD avoids the usual pitfalls of behind-the-scenes videos (nothing more boring than a band goofing around when it is for their own amusement only). One of the best bits on the DVD shows the band in the studio recording their superb EP for the Latitudes series with footage of the band running through “Satori” before cutting to Grails on stage doing the same song. It is a standard music documentary ploy but it works brilliantly here.

Acid Rain combines the best features of the many different approaches to music DVDs. The videos are great and the live footage is worth engaging with, there is very little to find fault with here. The collection is beautifully presented in a simple fashion (no overlong title sequences on the menu) and for the most part the content is of a high quality. There is no feeling that this is in any way a rush job or a contract filler. Acid Rain is simply a wonderful DVD from a band who know what they want to achieve through the medium.