August 12, 2005

Pelican "The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw"

It was only a matter of time before a band came along and messed with the traditional ‘metal’ formula. Sure, for years bands like Coverge, Neurosis and Coalesce have mixed the harshness of heavy metal and hardcore, and they've succeed in blending the two styles together. Yet for all their innovation, they've still not convincingly made a record that's blended both styles together naturally. Cave In, though, came closest, and will hopefully be recognized as the innovators they are; their career has been a crescendo of a style that’s a mutation of hardcore, metal, prog and pop, and it’s not really surprising to find bands inspired by their ideas.

Pelican, though, takes all of these ideas even further. Dropping the vocals completely and tossing aside their poppier tendencies, they substitute those elements with a spaced-out atmospheric tendency reminiscent of Godspeed! You Black Emperor. Pelican’s latest album, The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon The Thaw, is nothing less than an hour long epic journey of heavy-duty instrumental rock. Apparently, the mysterious forces behind Pelican understand that there is beauty to be found in even the loudest of sounds, and that’s certainly the case here. For the most part, Pelican specializes in epic rock; of the seven songs here, three of them make the ten minute mark and another one comes damn close to it. Beginning with the monster “Last Day of Winter,” it’s quite clear that Pelican has some clear goals in mind: making music that’s strong and heavy and unconcerned with what the listener might be able to withstand.

That’s not to say that Pelican is only interested in overpowering the listener, though. . Even the heaviest of The Fire’s songs contain a small element of beauty, a seed of delicacy protected by an impenetrable outer shell. Hard relentless riffs are tempered with quiet moments; in between the heavy “March to the Sea” and “Red Ran Amber” is the untitled fourth track, a gentle, eye-of-the-storm acoustic folk instrumental. Then there’s “Aurora Borealis” is beautiful, epic space-rock that’s shimmers and shines brightly, and ultimately you can’t help but consider it to be anything less than an impressionistic interpretation of that space phenomenon. Yet, in an odd twist, as the songs on The Fire grow shorter, the album’s cohesiveness starts to dwindle; fortunately, the album ends before losing its bearing.

Instrumental music can be boring, but if done properly, it can be quite rewarding, and Pelican’s The Fire In Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw is most certainly that. While their heavy riffing might not be for everyone, for those who appreciate a band willing to push the musical envelope, then this is an album certainly worthy of attention.

--Joseph Kyle

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