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Pelican - City of Echoes (Cover Artwork)

Pelican

Pelican: City of EchoesCity of Echoes (2007)
Hydra Head Records

Reviewer Rating: 4
User Rating:


Contributed by: pwfanatic37pwfanatic37
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Pelican was screwed after The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw. There was just no way to make such a fantastic followup to such a fantastic album. I might be alone in thinking this, but I have the feeling that other instrumetal/art-metal fans tend to agree. Or maybe they don't, and the album.
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Pelican was screwed after The Fire in Our Throats Will Beckon the Thaw. There was just no way to make such a fantastic followup to such a fantastic album. I might be alone in thinking this, but I have the feeling that other instrumetal/art-metal fans tend to agree. Or maybe they don't, and the album that is impossible to follow up was the eerily awesome Australasia. Either way, Pelican had some big shoes to re-fill.

It is always unfortunate when that happens to a band, because going in, after a conversation I had with bassist Bryan Herweg before the band entered the studio, I knew the new album wasn't going to be in the vein of either of the previous full-lengths. He wasn't lying. City of Echoes is the anti-Pelican; however, it does retain some of the band's trademark qualities.

For starters, no song pushes ten minutes. In fact, the songs are on average five minutes long. That may not seem like a big deal, but for a band that has made a career on incredibly long and drawn-out songs, it is a big change. City of Echoes picks up the pace for the most part, while still retaining many of the sludgy qualities that made the band's early material so appealing. It is an odd combination: the best of the old with a bit of the new. For the most part, it works out quite well.

The album opens with "Bliss in Concrete," a dreary little trip through an audio swamp. Pelican wastes no time with leading into tracks this time around, and after a minute of the same repeated riff, the sludgy metal blasts in, and the double-bass carries throughout most of the song. The riffs from guitarists Trevor de Brauw and Laurent Lebec lack the emotional buildup of previous efforts. Instead the duo comes as one of the heavier-hitting melodic onslaughts, barely matched by the much more metal-ier drumming of Larry Herweg.

"Spaceship Broken-Parts Needed" sounds more like a poor man's version of a cut from The Fire in Our Throats. It has the bi-polar dynamics of Pelican's older works, but also incorporates a much more diverse showing on the softer bits. If there is anywhere that Pelican has improved on this album, it is between the guitars on the softer bits. Instead of letting no sound be the best emotion, de Brauw and Lebec have thrown some technicality into the mix, giving even the softer parts a little metal seasoning. For a band that has been pegged into the bigger picture of the metal genre, it fits.

But Pelican is smart and doesn't let themselves become pigeonholed by the limitations of metal. "Winds with Hands" relies on a gorgeously recorded acoustic take that still showcases a barebones dynamic shift in tone. This unfortunately is semi-ruined by the unnecessary addition of an electronic howling towards the end, but the entire mood isn't lost. Other songs like "Far from Fields" would classify as metal for soccer moms. Sure, the fancy work on the frets are there, but the gleeful melodic sound suggests something far from metal, with the apex being a monster riff more often seen with Explosions in the Sky than Neurosis.

Overall, City of Echoes is a fantastic album. The problem is that Pelican has done better. Maybe I'm just spoiled on one of the best half-hours of music being only three songs, but the â??short' takes seem to be over before they've begun. The best parts of the songs fly right by without the buildup, and aside from "Far from Fields," many lack that master blow where the only way to survive is to head bang uncontrollably. At the same time, this isn't so much a band thing. Pelican has successfully avoided being pigeonholed as a mere Neurosis/Isis junkie with City of Echoes. It's an album that sees the band moving away from that tag where Pelican can only be said in the same sentence as Isis or Neurosis. Still, a step forward here and a step backward there makes for a great album.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
paris_in_flames (September 29, 2007)

This cd is decent. I'll definitely admit that the drumming is nothing to write home about, but it still has its moments. The structure of the whole album seems incoherent, which is its biggest flaw.

skamocore (September 21, 2007)

Wow...am I the only person who thinks this album is awesome?

denbez (June 7, 2007)

If you thought this album was anything other than an absolutely crushing letdown, you really shouldn't be listening to this kind of music, huh?

benz (June 7, 2007)

Not as good as "Fire" but still another great release from a great band. Definetly a different direction for them, which is a bonus. Maybe I'll like it more with more listens.

-benz

Rocktopus (June 7, 2007)

I like Pelican so I may pick this up, although I really have to be in the mood to listen to it. The shorter songs sound like it'll take the effort of listening to it away. I may be wrong.

skeetskurt (June 6, 2007)

is that you lou dog with the pelican underwear?

sirens (June 6, 2007)

wasnt to impressed with this release

DickAround (June 6, 2007)

I got the Pelican underwear. I can live now.

strangenotes (June 5, 2007)

Two steps away from TOOL nu-metal bullshit. No thanks.

SilentStorms (June 5, 2007)

"this sound slike an Isis clone

-awaiting dropkick to the head"

Ahhhhh! (dropkicking head)

DickAround (June 5, 2007)

This album is pretty damn amazing. They're considered "metal" because their first EP sounds like a sludge metal mess, in a good way. The drumming fits the sound perfectly on this album, no matter how bad it sounds. Haha, it's little things like that, that make me enjoy this record so much. I like it a lot more than that bloated Explosions In The Sky album. This album to me is the new, anorexic Pelican, flaunting it's shit while their peers are busy being epic. It's like Nicole Richie, minus the Mexican-ness.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

Eurrrrgh, Isis are shit and this is 100 times worse.

Infrarecon (June 5, 2007)

I agree with the reviewer. This album's not as bad as some would have you believe, definiately solid.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

this sound slike an Isis clone

-awaiting dropkick to the head

danperrone (June 5, 2007)

awful

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

I love Pelican, but it seems that the drummer has gotten worse and worse. Has he ever heard of a click track? Jeez...

osloboditelj (June 5, 2007)

Somehow my score vanished. Here it is, in my opinion.

osloboditelj (June 5, 2007)

There are three problems with this album.
1) The production. It just sounds like ass, especially the guitar. Ugh.
2) The drumming. I mean, their drummer's always been mediocre, but the way hes pushed to the front of the mix here just showcases how egregiously bad his drumming is in this context. He displays no nuance, detracts from the dynamics, and generally just sounds awkward.
3) The songwriting. This is the big one - none of the songs feels weel-crafted. On a previous Pelican release, it really sounded like they planned out every song to work toward that peak of ecstasy. Here, it's just somewhat disjointed instrumental noodling which doesn't show structural talent. There are no good buildups, there are no stunningly beautiful segues, there's just a mess.

This disc is a huge fucking disappointment coming from Pelican.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

i will probably pick this up, though i finally caught them live and thought they were a snore. and the fire... was good, but not THAT good.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

Pelican is just pretentious nonsense. I bought "The Fire In Our Throats..." and it just seems as if they are making long drawn out, boring ass, instrumental songs just for the sake of it. Build ups are too long and its just flat out boring. Furthermore, where does all this talk about metal in Pelican's music come from? I hear nothing close to metal or heavy in anything I have heard.

Anonymous (June 5, 2007)

I like this band, but I realized what this record sounds like. Go listen to Appleseed Cast's Mare Vitalis and you'll see.

SilentStorms (June 5, 2007)

Oops, I meant that I have every record.

SilentStorms (June 5, 2007)

I've been constantly ejaculating to the title track which they released a couple of months ago. I have record they put out and that song tops everything! I neeeeeeed this. If I see one Isis clone post I'll fucking dropkick you to your fucking head asswipe!

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