Instrumental rock bands can tend toward being soothing, or groovy, or complex. Grails is a (mostly) instrumental band that likes to maintain a sense of ominousness in their music. There are intricate sections, and drummer Emil Amos — who has his own equally sinister project performing under the name Holy Sons — plays with both a sense of melody and muscular virtuosity.
Grails gets murky and heavy on "Chalice Hymnal," released earlier this year, the band's first record in several years. Obscure soundtracks, early epic Pink Floyd and krautrock sound like the recent touchstones of this adventurous band. Those who say they'd like Radiohead if Thom Yorke weren't in the band might be primed for Grails. Some of the band's song titles — like "Acid Rain," "The Burden of Hope" and "PTSD" — drive home a dystopian, doom-obsessed view. Others — like "Almost Grew My Hair" — suggest a sense of rock-history-based referential humor.
One more thing: Grails is an elusive band: It's not likely to pass through this part of the country again any time soon. Grails plays at Ballroom at the Outer Space, 295 Treadwell St., Hamden, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $15. 203-288-6400 and thespacect.com.